How do mosquito eggs self-assemble on the water surface?
Université Bordeaux 1, CNRS, Centre de Recherche Paul Pascal, 115 Avenue A. Schweitzer, F33600, Pessac, France
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Revised: 2 July 2011
Accepted: 6 July 2011
Published online: 4 August 2011
This work reports a detailed numerical study of the behavior of ellipsoid-shaped particles adsorbed at fluid interfaces. Former experiments have shown that micrometer-sized prolate ellipsoids aggregate under the action of strong and long-ranged capillary interactions. The latter are due to nonplanar contact lines and to the resulting deformations of the interface in the vicinity of the trapped objects. We first consider the case of a single ellipsoid and examine in detail the influence of contact angle and ellipsoid aspect ratio on interfacial distortions. We then focus on two contacting ellipsoids and study the optimum packing configuration depending on their size and/or aspect ratio mismatch. We thoroughly explore the variety of contact configurations between both ellipsoids and provide corresponding energy maps. Whereas the side-by-side configuration is the most stable state for identical ellipsoids, we find that the mismatched pair adopts an “arrow” configuration in which a finite angle exists between the particles long axes. Such arrows are actually seen in experiments with micron-sized ellipsoids and similarly with millimeter-sized mosquito eggs. These results complement our previous work (J.C. Loudet, B. Pouligny, EPL 85, 28003 (2009)) and highlight the importance of geometrical factors to explain the morphology of aggregated structures at fluid interfaces.
© EDP Sciences, SIF, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2011