The curious task of watching liquid marbles dry


Fig. 1 Fabricating a liquid marble. (A) Silanization procedure. (B) Various hydrophobic surface area structures acquired utilizing silanes. (C) Snapshots from Movie S1 (ESI†), where the hydrophobic particles are put onto a water bead to produce a liquid marble. The particles slide along the air–water user interface and cover the liquid surface area bottom-up, hence covering the bead. Credit: DOI: 10.1039/D1SM00750E

An extensive structure for studying the evaporation habits of liquid marbles is assisting KAUST scientists to much better comprehend these small biological structures.


Liquid marbles were very first found throughout a research study of the habits of aphids—small bugs that live inside plant galls. Aphids consume nectar, then excrete sticky, sweet compounds into their restricted living space. To prevent drowning in their own excretions, the bugs coat the sticky fluid with wax particles, developing small liquid marbles with a hydrophobic external layer that they cannot stay with.

Scientists rapidly recognized the worth of such a system for transferring small quantities of undamaged liquid over a surface area without “wetting” it. Further applications for liquid marbles consist of mini biochemical reactors and contamination tracking.

“Even though the water surface of a liquid marble is covered by hydrophobic (water-repellent) particles, they can still evaporate faster than bare water droplets. This counterintuitive fact stoked our curiosity,” states Adair Gallo Jr, the Ph.D. trainee who dealt with the research study along with Himanshu Mishra and associates.

Currently, there is an insufficient understanding of how particle size, friction in between particles and liquid-particle interactions affect the marbles’ evaporation habits. The group studied marbles formed from particles with various hydrophobic natures, surface area roughness and sizes, differing from nano to micro.

Credit: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

Using high-speed imaging, Gallo discovered that liquid–particle and particle-particle interactions seriously affected evaporation habits, and he organized them into 3 cases. Firstly, marbles formed from particles with high liquid-particle adhesion and moderate interparticle friction kept their overall area undamaged as they deflated, causing much faster evaporation and flattened shapes. Most marble examples fell under this classification.

For the 2nd case, Gallo explore microscale silica particles covered with nanoscale particles that displayed ultra-water-repellence.

“As these liquid marbles evaporated, they ejected particles from their surface and remained spherical; we had not expected to see this,” states Gallo. “This happens because of very low liquid–particle and interparticle forces. Curiously, this case showed the same evaporation rates as bare water droplets.”

The 3rd case included sticky nanoparticles that communicated carefully with each other however not with the liquid within. As the liquid vaporized, the particles were pressed out from the water surface area to form a multilayered covering. The marbles kept a round shape however vaporized at much slower rates due to the fact that of the thicker particle layers.

The group utilized these information to construct a mathematical design that properly anticipates the evaporation habits of all the liquid marbles studied in this work and various other released reports.

“Our curiosity-driven research has led to a solid analytical framework for thinking about these soft squishy objects,” states Mishra.


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More info:
A. Gallo et al, How particle–particle and liquid–particle interactions govern the fate of vaporizing liquid marbles, Soft Matter (2021). DOI: 10.1039/D1SM00750E

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King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

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The curious task of watching liquid marbles dry (2021, October 11)
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