Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Liquid marbles


The transport of a small amount of liquid on a solid is not a simple process, owing to the nature of the contact between the two phases. Setting a liquid droplet in motion requires non-negligible forces (because the contact-angle hysteresis generates a force opposing the motion1), and often results in the deposition of liquid behind the drop. Different methods of levitation—electrostatic, electromagnetic, acoustic2, or even simpler aerodynamic2,3 techniques—have been proposed to avoid this wetting problem, but all have proved to be rather cumbersome. Here we propose a simple alternative, which consists of encapsulating an aqueous liquid droplet with a hydrophobic powder. The resulting ‘liquid marbles’ are found to behave like a soft solid, and show dramatically reduced adhesion to a solid surface. As a result, motion can be generated using gravitational, electrical and magnetic fields. Moreover, because the viscous friction associated with motion is very small4, we can achieve quick displacements of the droplets without any leaks. All of these features are of potential benefit in microfluidic applications, and also permit the study of a drop in a non-wetting situation—an issue of renewed interest following the recent achievement of super-hydrophobic substrates5.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: A liquid marble.
Figure 2: Contact of static liquid marbles, and their velocity on slightly tilted plates.
Figure 3: Comparison of the mobility of a liquid marble on two different slopes.
Figure 4: Different shapes taken by a liquid marble in the inertial regime.


  1. Dussan, V. E. B. & Chow, R. T. P. On the ability of drops or bubbles to stick to non-horizontal surfaces of solids. J. Fluid Mech. 137, 1–29 (1983).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  2. Frohn, A. & Roth, R. Dynamics of Droplets (Springer, Berlin, 2000).

    Book  Google Scholar 

  3. Perez, M. et al. Oscillation of liquid drops under gravity: influence of shape on the resonance frequency. Europhys. Lett. 47, 189–195 (1999).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Mahadevan, L. & Pomeau, Y. Rolling droplets. Phys. Fluids 11, 2449–2453 (1999).

    Article  ADS  MathSciNet  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Onda, T., Shibuichi, S., Satoh, N. & Tsujii, K. Super water-repellent fractal surfaces. Langmuir 12, 2125–2127 (1996).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Taylor, G. I. & Michael, D. H. On making holes in a sheet of fluid. J. Fluid Mech. 58, 625–639 (1973).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  7. Richard, D. & Quéré, D. Drops rolling on a tilted non-wettable solid. Europhys. Lett. 48, 286–291 (1999).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Wang, T. G. et al. Bifurcation of rotating liquid drops: results from USML-1 experiments in space. J. Fluid Mech. 276, 389–403 (1994).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  9. Lee, C. P. et al. Equilibrium of liquid drops under the effects of rotation and acoustic flattening: results from USML-2 experiments in space. J. Fluid Mech. 354, 43–67 (1998).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  10. Brown, R. A. & Scriven, L. E. The shape and stability of rotating liquid drops. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A 371, 351–367 (1980).

    Article  ADS  MathSciNet  Google Scholar 

  11. Brown, R. A. & Scriven, L. E. New class of asymmetric shapes of rotating liquid drops. Phys. Rev. Lett. 45, 180–183 (1980).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Rayleigh,Lord The equilibrium of revolving liquid under capillary force. Phil. Mag. 28, 161–170 (1914).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Plateau, J. A. F. Experimental and theoretical researches on the figures of equilibrium of a liquid mass withdrawn from the action of gravity. Annu. Rep. Board Regents Smithson. Inst. 207–285 (1863).

  14. Chandrasekhar, S. The stability of a rotating liquid drop. Proc. R. Soc. Lond A 286, 1–26 (1965).

    Article  ADS  MathSciNet  Google Scholar 

Download references


We thank J. Bico and D. Richard for silanization of lycopodium grains and the achievement of a first series of liquid marbles, C. Clanet for help with high-speed pictures and for discussions, and P.-G. de Gennes for discussions and encouragement.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to David Quéré.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Aussillous, P., Quéré, D. Liquid marbles. Nature 411, 924–927 (2001).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing