The effects of contact-line pinning are well known in macroscopic systems but are only just beginning to be explored at the microscale in colloidal suspensions. We use digital holography to capture the fast three-dimensional dynamics of micrometer-sized ellipsoids breaching an oil-water interface. We find that the particle angle varies approximately linearly with the height, in contrast to results from simulations based on the minimization of the interfacial energy. Using a simple model of the motion of the contact line, we show that the observed coupling between translational and rotational degrees of freedom is likely due to contact-line pinning. We conclude that the dynamics of colloidal particles adsorbing to a liquid interface are not determined by the minimization of interfacial energy and viscous dissipation alone; contact-line pinning dictates both the time scale and pathway to equilibrium.
Supplementary movie available from article page on PRL website