Surface Chemistry

4 minute read
Surface Chemistry

Surface Chemistry is the study of processes that take place at the interface of two surfaces. It is one of the most important chapters included in the Chemistry syllabus for class 12 and explains the occurrence of many everyday activities. Understanding concepts related to this topic is also essential for many Government exams after 12th Science. So, in this blog, we will learn the basics of surface chemistry, its applications and some questions that might be helpful for understanding the chapter better!

What is Meant by Surface Chemistry?

As discussed, Surface Chemistry is the study of the process i.e Absorption, Adsorption, Corrosion, and Crystallization that occurs at the interface of two bulk phases as listed below. 


Processes Occurring on Surfaces

With 4 major processes that occur at the surface, understanding them in depth becomes important. To bring more clarity, here is the explanation to every process.

AbsorptionAbsorption is a process in which some atoms, ions or molecules enter a bulk phase such as solid, liquid or gas through a membrane. 
CorrosionCorrosion occurs when pure metals are exposed to the environment. On coming in contact with air or water, they are degraded into undesirable substances due to the oxidation process. 
AdsorptionAnother important surface chemistry concept, adsorption is a process in which adhesion of molecules, ions, atoms or biomolecules of dissolved solid, liquid or gas occurs on a surface. 
CrystallizationA method by which small crystals convert into a solid is called crystallization. This process is used to separate solid from a solution, generally, for purification of substances.

Applications of Surface Chemistry

From using sunscreen to baking cake, there are scores of examples of the use of Chemistry in everyday life. We will be discussing some of the applications of surface chemistry through examples to make this concept crystal clear.


Chromatography is a process in which separation, purification, and testing of compounds are carried on. In this technique, which is used to explain the concept of surface chemistry, the mixture which is to be separated is applied on a stationary phase and a pure solvent is moved over it carrying the components as per their solubility in the solvent. Thin layer, Columns, Adsorption, and Partition chromatography are some of the types.

Electrode Reactions

The substance which conducts electricity and connects non-metallic parts of the circuit such as semiconductors, plasma, electrolytes, etc are called electrodes. In this process, the simultaneous oxidation-reduction process occurs and thus is a good example of surface chemistry. It is observed in a simple cell, lithium-ion battery, fuel cells, etc.


All reactions do not take place at the same rate in the given conditions. To lower the activation energy required for the conversion of reactants to products some reagents are added. These reagents are known as catalysts and this process is known as catalysis.

Colloid Formation

A colloid is a heterogeneous mixture in which the particulates of one substance are dispersed into another [called dispersion medium]. Oxidation, Hydrolysis, Displacement, and Reduction are some of the surface chemistry processes through which colloidal formation occurs.

Important Surface Chemistry Questions

Example of oil dispersed in water

When the oil is dispersed in water, water acts as the dispersion medium whereas oil acts as the dispersed phase. An example of oil dispersed in water would be milk in vanishing cream or the liquid fat in milk dispersed in water.

Example of oil dispersed in water

In water dispersed in oil, oil acts as the dispersion medium whereas water acts as the dispersed phase. An example of water dispersed in oil would be butter and cream.

How artificial rain is done by spraying salt over clouds?

The sprinkling of salts over clouds acts as electrolytes and helps in the coagulation of water particles.

What is peptization?

When a precipitate is converted into a colloidal solution by mixing it in a dispersed medium in the presence of some electrolyte is known as peptization. Here, the peptizing agent is the electrolyte.

Name a substance that can be used both, as a colloid and crystalloid.

Sodium chloride is an example of a substance that can act as a colloid as well as a crystalloid. Furthermore, NaCl acts as a colloid in benzene and a crystalloid when dissolved in water.

Hopefully, this blog helped you in understanding concepts pertaining to surface chemistry comprehensively. If you are planning to pursue a career in Science after 12th and need some guidance for the same, you can head to our experts at Leverage Edu. From helping you find the most suitable degree program to completing application-related formalities, they will provide assistance at every step!

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