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Surface Tension: Conceptual Challenges in Modeling Nanoscale Material Surfaces

Bursten, Julia (2020) Surface Tension: Conceptual Challenges in Modeling Nanoscale Material Surfaces. [Preprint]

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Abstract

All solid and liquid materials have surfaces, and surfaces typically exhibit different physical and chemical properties and behaviors than the bulk or interior of the materials they contain. The properties and behaviors of surfaces are, thus, a universal feature of materials and a perennial object of study in the physical sciences. One important way in which this study manifests is in the modeling of materials. Contemporary philosophy of science has taken a strong interest in the epistemology of scientific modeling, and recently, particular attention has been given to the conceptual, epistemic, ontological, and practical challenges posed by multiscale modeling. Representing surface properties and behaviors within a wider context of material behavior is often a goal of constructing multiscale models of materials. Despite this, and despite that much philosophical literature on multiscale modeling addresses models in physics, little has so far been said about the challenges associated with modeling material surfaces. Further, nanoscale materials present a variety of practical, theoretical, and conceptual challenges for traditional approaches to modeling the physical and chemical behavior of materials. In this article, I examine how two distinct approaches to modeling surfaces arise from two distinct conceptions of what a surface is. I call these the "boundary on a body" conception and the "outermost layer" conception, and I show how the distinction both underwrites different modeling strategies and threatens reductive approaches to the epistemology of modeling.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Bursten, Juliajrbursten@uky.edu0000-0002-5664-3342
Keywords: physics, modeling, nanomaterials, nanoscience, surfaces, reduction
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Chemistry
Specific Sciences > Physics > Condensed Matter
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Specific Sciences > Physics
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
General Issues > Structure of Theories
Depositing User: Julia Bursten
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2020 02:03
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2020 02:03
Item ID: 17287
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Chemistry
Specific Sciences > Physics > Condensed Matter
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Specific Sciences > Physics
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
General Issues > Structure of Theories
Date: 2020
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/17287

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