12 Cohesion Examples in Real Life

Cohesion Examples

Cohesion is the property of a substance that causes its particles or molecules to be attracted to each other, leading them to stick together. Cohesion is a fundamental concept in the study of the physical properties of matter. In the context of liquids, such as water, cohesion is the tendency of water molecules to be attracted to one another due to hydrogen bonding. It is responsible for several important characteristics of water, including its high surface tension, ability to form capillary action in narrow tubes, the formation of water droplets, and its role in the transportation of water in plants through transpiration. Some examples of cohesion in water are:

Raindrops are spherical due to the cohesive forces between water molecules.
Water forms droplets on a freshly waxed car due to cohesion.
Insects can walk on the surface of water because of water's high surface tension, a result of cohesion.
Water adheres to the sides of a glass, forming a concave meniscus.
Capillary action in plants relies on water's cohesive properties to move water from roots to leaves.
Water molecules "stick together" in a glass, allowing you to overfill it without spilling.
Water forms a continuous column when poured from a container because of cohesion.
Cohesion causes water to have a relatively high boiling point compared to other similar-sized molecules.
Surface tension allows small objects, like paperclips, to float on water.
Cohesion contributes to the formation of waves on the surface of water bodies.
Raindrops merge with one another as they fall due to cohesion.
Water forms a convex meniscus in a narrow tube because of cohesive forces.
Cohesion enables water to be drawn up a thin straw when you sip a beverage.
Cohesion helps water molecules move through the tiny vessels of plants, delivering nutrients.
Cohesion plays a role in the formation of ice crystals, creating a hexagonal lattice.
Water's cohesive properties allow it to create a concave meniscus in a graduated cylinder.
Surface tension enables water to bead up on a hydrophobic surface.
Cohesion allows water to form a smooth surface in a glass.
Water droplets on a car windshield stick together due to cohesion.
Water forms a thin film between two glass plates when pressed together, demonstrating cohesive forces.

Cohesion is a fundamental concept that applies to various fields of life and science. In the world of physics and chemistry, cohesion is what makes molecules or particles attract each other, affecting how liquids, solids, and gases behave. Think of water molecules sticking together due to hydrogen bonds, which also influence how water moves in plants and how blood flows in our bodies. Cohesion is a universal force that ties together our world, whether it is in the physical or biological aspects of our lives. Here are some cohesion examples in real life:


1. Surface Tension

Surface tension

Surface tension is a result of cohesion in liquids, especially noticeable in water. Water molecules at the surface are attracted to each other, creating a “skin” that resists external forces. Hydrogen bonding gives water its high surface tension. This cohesive force allows small, lightweight objects to float on the water’s surface. For example, water striders can glide on water due to surface tension, as their legs don’t break through the surface.

2. Formation of Droplets


Cohesion causes liquid droplets to form and maintain their spherical shape. When water condenses on a cold surface, like a glass of cold water on a warm day, tiny water droplets gather together due to the cohesive forces between water molecules, forming visible droplets.

3. Capillary Action

Capillary Action

Cohesion enables capillary action, where liquids are drawn up in narrow tubes, like plant xylem or small glass capillaries. Water molecules adhere to the tube walls and each other, creating a continuous column of liquid that can rise against the force of gravity.

4. Meniscus Formation

Meniscus Formation

When a liquid, such as water, is in a narrow container like a graduated cylinder, it adheres to the sides of the container due to cohesion. This causes the liquid surface to either curve upward (concave meniscus) or downward (convex meniscus), depending on the relative strengths of cohesive and adhesive forces.

5. Formation of Ice Crystals

Formation of Ice Crystals

Cohesion in water molecules results in the formation of hexagonal ice crystals when water freezes. The strong bonds between water molecules arrange them in a repeating hexagonal pattern, a characteristic feature of ice.

6. Formation of Waves

Formation of Waves

Cohesion is responsible for the formation of waves on the surface of water bodies. The tendency of water molecules to stick together creates the undulating motion of waves, as molecules are pulled and pushed by their neighbours.

7. High Boiling Point

Boiling Point

Water has a higher boiling point compared to similar-sized molecules due to the strong cohesive forces between its molecules. It takes a substantial amount of energy to break these bonds and convert water from a liquid to a gas, making water’s boiling point relatively high.

8. Formation of Bubbles

Formation of Bubbles

When soap bubbles are blown, cohesion within the soap film helps maintain the bubble’s shape and integrity. The cohesive forces between the soap molecules in the film are what prevent the bubble from collapsing, creating a thin, stable, and flexible surface.

9. Water Transport in Plants

Water Transport in Plants

Cohesion and adhesion are pivotal in the movement of water through plant tissues. Water molecules exhibit strong cohesive forces, adhering to each other (cohesion) and to the walls of plant cells (adhesion). This combination of forces allows plants to effectively draw water from the soil through their roots and transport it to the leaves and other parts of the plant. The cohesion-adhesion mechanism, often described as the cohesion-tension theory, plays a fundamental role in maintaining plant hydration and facilitating the distribution of vital nutrients, ensuring the plant’s growth and survival even against the pull of gravity.

10. Blood Circulation

Blood Circulation

In the complex circulatory system, blood consists of various components, including cells and plasma. Cohesion is particularly critical within the liquid component, plasma, where it prevents blood from separating. These cohesive forces keep blood flowing continuously through blood vessels, ensuring the efficient distribution of oxygen, nutrients, and waste removal to and from cells throughout the body. Cohesion also prevents blood from clotting too easily, as clot formation involves breaking these cohesive forces. This property ensures that blood circulates smoothly, contributing to the overall health and functioning of the human body.

11. Geology

Soil strength

In geology, cohesion refers to the internal strength and resistance of a material, such as soil or rock, to maintain its structure. Cohesion is a crucial factor in understanding the stability of geological formations. In geology, cohesion is a critical factor that influences the strength and stability of materials like soil, rocks, and sediments. Here are some examples of cohesion in geology:

  • Shear Strength of Soil

Shear Strength of Soil

Cohesion is a fundamental aspect of soil mechanics, influencing the shear strength of soils. In cohesive soils like clay, soil particles possess an intrinsic attraction to one another, which provides resistance to shear forces. This cohesive strength is critical in determining a soil’s load-bearing capacity and stability. Understanding cohesion in soils is vital for engineering projects, as it aids in evaluating factors like slope stability, foundation design, and the prevention of soil erosion.

  • Rock Mass Stability

Rock Mass Stability

Cohesion is crucial in preserving the structural integrity of rock masses. In intact rock, the cohesive forces between mineral grains help maintain the rock’s strength and stability. However, geological processes like weathering, faulting, and mineral alterations can weaken or disrupt this cohesion. When cohesion is compromised, it can lead to instability, rockfalls, and landslides, which are common occurrences in geological terrains with altered rock masses.

  • Landslides


Cohesion is a significant factor in landslide occurrence and susceptibility. Landslides often happen when cohesive forces within soil or rock are exceeded. In cohesive soils, such as clays, the ability of soil particles to adhere to one another, or the lack thereof, profoundly impacts the likelihood and magnitude of landslides. High cohesion can help maintain slope stability, while reduced cohesion may lead to the failure of slopes and the rapid movement of material downhill.

  • Soil Mechanics

Soil Mechanics

In the field of soil mechanics, the cohesive properties of soils are crucial for understanding their behaviour and suitability for various applications. Cohesion is one of the parameters used to classify soils, aiding engineers and geologists in categorizing and assessing soil types. This classification informs decisions related to construction, foundation design, and land use planning. Different types of soils, each with varying cohesion levels, require specific engineering approaches to ensure stability and safety in construction projects. The cohesive characteristics of soils also have implications for managing soil erosion and sediment control in environmental and agricultural contexts.

  • Foundation Engineering

Foundation Engineering

In foundation engineering, cohesive properties of soils and rocks play a critical role in designing safe and effective foundations for buildings and structures. Engineers consider the cohesive strength of the materials beneath the foundation to ensure the structure’s stability and prevent issues like settling or tilting. Knowledge of cohesion helps determine factors such as foundation type, depth, and the appropriate design parameters, ensuring that structures are adequately supported and anchored in the ground.

  • Tunnelling and Excavation

Tunnelling and Excavation

Tunnelling and excavation projects encounter various geological materials with differing cohesion levels. Understanding the cohesion properties of these materials is essential for ensuring worker safety and the stability of tunnels and excavations. Weak cohesion in the surrounding geological materials can pose risks of collapse or instability during excavation. Engineers and geologists assess cohesion to determine the necessary support systems, construction methods, and safety measures to maintain the integrity of tunnelling and excavation projects.

  • Formation of Clastic Sedimentary Rocks

Formation of Clastic Sedimentary Rocks

Clastic sedimentary rocks, like sandstone and shale, owe their existence to cohesive forces between mineral particles and binding agents. Cohesion within these rocks results from the binding agents, such as calcite or silica, that fill the spaces between mineral particles. These cohesive forces play a crucial role in consolidating loose sediment into solid rock. As clastic sediments accumulate and are subjected to pressure, the cohesive forces contribute to the cementation process, creating enduring geological formations with distinct textures and structures.

12. Materials Science & Engineering

Cohesion in Materials Science & Engineering

In materials science and engineering, cohesion refers to the strength and stability of materials, especially at the molecular or atomic level. Cohesion is essential in designing and testing the performance of these materials. Here are examples of cohesion in this field:

  • Adhesive Bonds

Adhesive Bonds

In materials engineering, cohesion is exemplified in adhesive bonds, such as epoxy or superglue. The effectiveness of these adhesives depends on the cohesive forces within the adhesive itself. High cohesion ensures that the adhesive forms a strong bond between materials. This internal adhesive cohesion is crucial for various applications, from bonding metals in aerospace engineering to joining plastics in everyday products. The strength of the adhesive bond relies on the adhesive’s ability to maintain its own structural integrity, which, in turn, contributes to the stability and reliability of the bonded materials.

  • Composite Materials

Composite Materials

Cohesion plays a central role in composite materials, like carbon-fibre-reinforced composites. These materials are renowned for their exceptional strength and stiffness. The cohesion between the reinforcing fibres and the matrix material is fundamental to this performance. Strong cohesive forces ensure that the fibres remain embedded within the matrix, enhancing the composite’s mechanical properties. The ability of these materials to withstand various stresses, from tension to compression, stems from the cohesion that binds together the components, making composites invaluable in industries such as aerospace and automotive engineering.

  • Soldering


Soldering, a fundamental process in electronics and materials engineering, relies on cohesion. Solder, typically a low-melting-point alloy, forms a cohesive bond with the metal surfaces it joins. This cohesive bond is both electrical and mechanical, ensuring a reliable connection. Cohesion in soldering is essential for applications ranging from circuit board assembly in electronics to the construction of complex mechanical systems. The strength and permanence of these solder joints are a direct result of the cohesive forces that create a solid and durable bond between the solder and the materials being joined.

  • Ceramic Materials

Ceramic Materials

Cohesion is integral to the structural integrity of ceramic materials. Within ceramics, cohesive forces exist between the individual ceramic particles or crystals. These forces play a fundamental role in determining the mechanical and thermal properties of ceramics, including their hardness, strength, and resistance to high temperatures. The strong cohesion within ceramics contributes to their exceptional durability, making them vital in applications such as cutting tools, heat-resistant materials, and electrical insulators. Cohesion within ceramics ensures that they maintain their form and functionality under extreme conditions.

  • Material Strength

Material Strength

In materials science and mechanical engineering, cohesion is closely linked to material strength. The cohesive forces between atoms or molecules within the material influence its mechanical properties, including tensile strength and compressive strength. These forces determine how resistant the material is to deformation and fracture. High cohesion results in materials that can withstand greater external forces and stresses. Understanding and harnessing cohesion at the atomic or molecular level are key aspects of materials design, helping to create materials with the desired mechanical characteristics for specific applications, from structural components to aerospace materials.

  • Welding


Welding processes, such as arc welding or spot welding, hinge on achieving a strong cohesive bond between two pieces of metal. In welding, the metal at the joint is heated to its melting point, creating a molten pool. As this molten metal cools and solidifies, cohesive forces within the metal create a continuous joint. The strength and reliability of the weld depend on the cohesion of the solidified metal, ensuring that it remains securely bonded. This process is used extensively in industries like construction, automotive manufacturing, and shipbuilding to create robust and durable connections between metal components.

  • Intermolecular Forces in Polymers

Intermolecular Forces in Polymers

Polymers, fundamental in materials science and engineering, are held together by cohesive forces such as van der Waals forces and hydrogen bonding. These cohesive forces link the polymer chains, influencing the material’s mechanical properties, flexibility, and durability. For instance, in synthetic rubber, the cohesive forces between polymer chains enable the material to stretch and recoil. Understanding and manipulating these cohesive forces in polymers is critical for tailoring their properties for diverse applications, from flexible packaging materials to rigid engineering plastics and elastomers in various industries.

  • Surface Coatings

Surface Coatings

Cohesion is paramount in surface coatings like paint, varnish, and protective coatings. Cohesion determines how well the coating adheres to the underlying substrate. Strong cohesion ensures that the coating forms a robust and durable layer, protecting the substrate from environmental factors. The ability of the coating to resist peeling, cracking, or delamination depends on cohesive forces within the coating itself. In applications ranging from building construction to automotive finishes, cohesive coatings are vital for preserving and enhancing the appearance and longevity of surfaces. Proper cohesion ensures that coatings provide long-lasting protection and aesthetic appeal.

  • Fracture Mechanics

Fracture Mechanics

In fracture mechanics, the cohesive zone modelling approach is used to analyze crack propagation in materials. This approach considers the cohesive forces at the atomic or molecular level around the crack tip. Cohesion is vital for predicting how materials will behave under stress and how cracks may propagate. Understanding the cohesive properties of materials in the vicinity of a crack is fundamental to assessing their structural integrity and safety. Fracture mechanics plays a critical role in designing and maintaining structures and materials in various fields, including civil engineering, aerospace, and materials science.

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