Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 August 2015
We study the behaviour of elongated puddles deposited on non-wetting substrates. Such liquid strips retract and adopt circular shapes after a few oscillations. Their thickness and horizontal surface area remain constant during this reorganization, so that the energy of the system is only lowered by minimizing the length of the contour (and the corresponding surface energy); despite the large scale of the experiments (several centimetres), motion is driven by surface tension. We focus on the retraction stage, and show that its velocity results from a balance between the capillary driving force and inertia, due to the frictionless motion on non-wetting substrates. As a consequence, the retraction velocity has a special Taylor–Culick structure, where the puddle width replaces the usual thickness.