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I am wondering if there are surfactants that exist in a gas state that can be used to reduce the surface tension of a liquid.

I know its a broad question, so for example, are there any gases that could reduce the surface tension of water when it is exposed to it?

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I am wondering if there are surfactants that exist in a gas state that can be used to reduce the surface tension of a liquid.

The most direct answer is "no". Gases do not have surface tension and gas-phase molecules do not chemically affect the surface tension of liquids.

I know its a broad question, so for example, are there any gases that could reduce the surface tension of water when it is exposed to it?

Gases could, however, dissolve in the liquid in question. Then, they aren't really gases, but solutes in the liquid. And solutes can affect surface tension. You can see this earlier question on volatile surfactants for some examples of water-soluble volatile surfactants for some examples. A paper entitled Surfactant in the gaseous phase was brought up by MAR in the comments and is another good example.

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  • $\begingroup$ What about this shiny thingy Curt? Does it suggest what I think it suggests? $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Dec 11 '15 at 13:06
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    $\begingroup$ Those are gases that dissolve in the liquid to behave as surfactants, as I refer to in the second part of my answer. If my answer is confusing let me know how I can clean it up to reduce confusion. $\endgroup$ – Curt F. Dec 11 '15 at 13:08
  • $\begingroup$ Well, no, but all I could go for was reading the title of the journal, which wasn't that descriptive. :) $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Dec 11 '15 at 13:11
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the link, looks interesting although I it's $40 to buy the full article. It also mentions about the gas creating a think layer liquid at the surface, would would probably not be a good thing for my situation. I'm trying to come up with a novel way to reduce the surface tension of a top down resin 3D printer. $\endgroup$ – user88720 Dec 11 '15 at 13:46
  • $\begingroup$ Surfactants are surface active agents. So by definition, to work they need to create a thin-layer liquid at the surface. $\endgroup$ – Curt F. Dec 11 '15 at 14:09

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