Border crossings

Interfacial Science
February 24, 2006

The study of interfaces is itself a subject at the interface between chemistry, physics and chemical engineering. Geoffrey Barnes and Ian Gentle's undergraduate textbook sits squarely on the physical side of chemistry, but offers something for students of soft matter physics and process engineering, with an excursion for life scientists (a chapter on cell membranes).

It achieves its aim of filling the gap between rudimentary discussions of colloids and surfaces found in general physical chemistry texts, and more sophisticated treatments in postgraduate texts. The authors consider all combinations of interfaces between solids, liquids and gases, with the exception of solid-solid interfaces, a topic of greater interest to polymer scientists and nanotechnologists. To stimulate readers'

interest, Barnes and Gentle present fascinating examples, including capillary rise in the thorns of an Australian lizard and drawing nylon rope from liquid interfaces. References to experiments by Franklin, Langmuir and Agnes Pockels offer historical context.

Derivations of equations are placed separately in tidy boxes to avoid intimidating less numerate students, but there are no worked examples of how to apply equations. A companion website for lecturers provides electronic versions of all figures and a solutions manual. Each chapter ends with numerous exercises and a reading list, making it an ideal textbook.

Joseph Keddie is reader in physics, Surrey University.

Interfacial Science: An Introduction. First Edition

Author - Geoffrey T. Barnes and Ian R. Gentle
Publisher - Oxford University Press
Pages - 247
Price - £25.99
ISBN - 0 19 9882 2

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