What is Surface Energy?
Surface energy, or interface energy, quantifies the disruption of intermolecular bonds that occur when a surface is created. In the physics of solids, surfaces must be intrinsically less energetically favorable than the bulk of a material (the molecules on the surface have more energy compared with the molecules in the bulk of the material), otherwise there would be a driving force for surfaces to be created, removing the bulk of the material. The surface energy may therefore be defined as the excess energy at the surface of a material compared to the bulk, or it is the work required to build an area of a particular surface. Another way to view the surface energy is to relate it to the work required to cut a bulk sample, creating two surfaces.