Drops That Change Their Mind: Spontaneous Reversal from Spreading to Retraction

R. Tadmor, A. Baksi, S. Gulec, S. Jadhav, H. E. N'Guessan, K. Sen, V. Somasi, M. Tadmor, P. Wasnik, S. Yadav

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


A liquid drop may spread faster on surfaces when surfactants are added. Here we show that after some time the spreading in such systems can, under certain conditions, spontaneously reverse to retraction and the droplet pulls itself back, receding from areas it has just recently wetted, elevating its center of mass in a jerklike motion. The duration from drop placement to the onset of retraction ranges from hours to less than a second primarily as a function of surfactant concentration. When the retraction is asymmetric, it results in drop motion, and when it is symmetric, the mass of the drop collects itself on its spot. This phenomenon, which was predicted theoretically in 2014, is apparently a general one for drops with surfactants; however, other factors, such as evaporation and contamination, prevented its observance so far.

Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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