Self-organization of hydrophobic soil and granular surfaces

Glen McHale, Neil Shirtcliffe, Michael Newton, F. Brian Pyatt, Stefan Doerr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Soil can become extremely water repellent following forest fires or oil spillages, thus preventing penetration of water and increasing runoff and soil erosion. Here the authors show that evaporation of a droplet from the surface of a hydrophobic granular material can be an active process, lifting, self-coating, and selectively concentrating small solid grains. Droplet evaporation leads to the formation of temporary liquid marbles and, as droplet volume reduces, particles of different wettabilities compete for water-air interfacial surface area. This can result in a sorting effect with self-organization of a mixed hydrophobic-hydrophilic aggregate into a hydrophobic shell surrounding a hydrophilic core.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)054110
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2007


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