NCERT Class 12 Chemistry Surface Chemistry

Read and download NCERT Class 12 Chemistry Surface Chemistry chapter in NCERT book for Class 12 Chemistry. You can download latest NCERT eBooks for 2021 chapter wise in PDF format free from This Chemistry textbook for Class 12 is designed by NCERT and is very useful for students. Please also refer to the NCERT solutions for Class 12 Chemistry to understand the answers of the exercise questions given at the end of this chapter

Surface chemistry deals with phenomena that occur at the surfaces or interfaces. The interface or surface is represented by separating the bulk phases by a hyphen or a slash. For example, the interface between a solid and a gas may be represented by solid-gas or solid/gas. Due to complete miscibility, there is no interface between the gases. The bulk phases that we come across in surface chemistry may be pure compounds or solutions. The interface is normally a few molecules thick but its area depends on the size of the particles of bulk phases. Many important phenomena, noticeable amongst these being corrosion, electrode processes, heterogeneous catalysis, dissolution and crystallisation occur at interfaces. The subject of surface chemistry finds many applications in industry, analytical work and daily life situations.

To accomplish surface studies meticulously, it becomes imperative to have a really clean surface.Under very high vacuum of the order of 10–8 to 10–9 pascal, it is now possible to obtain ultra clean surface of the metals. solid materials with such clean surfaces need to be stored in vacuum otherwise these will be covered by molecules of the major components of air namely dioxygen and dinitrogen. In this Unit, you will be studying some important features of surface chemistry such as adsorption, catalysis and colloids including emulsions and gels. 


 There are several examples, which reveal that the surface of a solid has the tendency to attract and retain the molecules of the phase with which it comes into contact. These molecules remain only at the surface and do not go deeper into the bulk. The accumulation of molecular species at the surface rather than in the bulk of a solid or liquid is termed adsorption. The molecular species or substance, which concentrates or accumulates at the surface is termed adsorbate and the material on the surface of which the adsorption takes place is called adsorbent. Adsorption is essentially a surface phenomenon. Solids, particularly in finely divided state, have large surface area and therefore, charcoal, silica gel, alumina gel, clay, colloids, metals in finely divided state, etc. act as good adsorbents.

Adsorption in action

(i) If a gas like O2, H2, CO, Cl2, NH3 or SO2 is taken in a closed vessel containing powdered charcoal, it is observed that the pressure of the gas in the enclosed vessel decreases. The gas molecules concentrate at the surface of the charcoal, i.e., gases are adsorbed at the surface.

(ii) In a solution of an organic dye, say methylene blue, when animal charcoal is added and the solution is well shaken, it is observed that the filtrate turns colourless. The molecules of the dye, thus, accumulate on the surface of charcoal, i.e., are adsorbed.

(iii) Aqueous solution of raw sugar, when passed over beds of animal charcoal, becomes colourless as the colouring substances are adsorbed by the charcoal.

(iv) The air becomes dry in the presence of silica gel because the water molecules get adsorbed on the surface of the gel. It is clear from the above examples that solid surfaces can hold the gas or liquid molecules by virtue of adsorption. The process of removing an adsorbed substance from a surface on which it is adsorbed is called desorption.

Distinction between Adsorption and Absorption

In adsorption, the substance is concentrated only at the surface and does not penetrate through the surface to the bulk of the adsorbent, while in absorption, the substance is uniformly distributed throughout the bulk of the solid. For example, when a chalk stick is dipped in ink, the surface retains the colour of the ink due to adsorption of coloured molecules while the solvent of the ink goes deeper into the stick due to absorption. On breaking the chalk stick, it is found to be white from inside. A distinction can be made between absorption and adsorption by taking an example of water vapour. Water vapours are absorbed by anhydrous calcium chloride but adsorbed by silica gel. In other words, in adsorption the concentration of the adsorbate increases only at the surface of the adsorbent, while in absorption the concentration is uniform throughout the bulk of the solid. Both adsorption and absorption can take place simultaneously also. The term sorption is used to describe both the processes.

5.1 Distinguish between the meaning of the terms adsorption and absorption. Give one example of each.

5.2 What is the difference between physisorption and chemisorption?

5.3 Give reason why a finely divided substance is more effective as an adsorbent.

5.4 What are the factors which influence the adsorption of a gas on a solid?

5.5 What is an adsorption isotherm? Describe Freundlich adsorption isotherm.

5.6 What do you understand by activation of adsorbent? How is it achieved?

5.7 What role does adsorption play in heterogeneous catalysis?

5.8 Why is adsorption always exothermic ?

5.9 How are the colloidal solutions classified on the basis of physical states of the dispersed phase and dispersion medium?

5.10 Discuss the effect of pressure and temperature on the adsorption of gases on solids.

5.11 What are lyophilic and lyophobic sols? Give one example of each type. Why are hydrophobic sols easily coagulated ?

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