Inversion probability of three-bladed self-propelled rotors after forced stops of different durations†
We investigated self-propelled rotation of a symmetric three-bladed rotor on water under periodic halt and release operations. The rotation was driven by the difference in the surface tension around the blades of the rotor because camphor molecules developed from three camphor disks glued at the blade ends. Spontaneous inversion of rotation direction was observed after a forced stop of the rotor and the subsequent release. The probability of such inversion decreased with an increase in the halting time. The asymmetric distribution of camphor molecules around the blades was also inverted after the forced stop and the degree of asymmetry increased with an increase in the angular velocity characterizing the stationary rotation of the rotor. Our experimental results for rotors with different shapes indicate that there is a strong correlation between the stationary angular velocity of the rotor and the maximum time duration of the forced stop for which a high probability of inversion is observed.