It is thought that the hairy legs of water walking arthropods are able to remain clean and dry because the flexibility of the hairs spontaneously moves drops off the hairs. We present a mathematical model of this bending-induced motion, or bendotaxis, and study how it performs for wetting and non-wetting drops. Crucially, we show that both wetting and non-wetting droplets move in the same direction (using physical arguments and numerical solutions). This suggests that a surface covered in elastic filaments (such as the hairy leg of insects) may be able to universally self-clean. To quantify the efficiency of this effect, we explore the conditions under which drops leave the structure by ‘spreading’ rather than translating and also how long it takes to do so.
- Industrial and Applied Mathematics Seminar