In a recent study we have shown that when small particles, e.g., flour, pollen, glass, etc., contact an air-liquid interface, they disperse rapidly as if they were in an explosion. The rapid dispersion is due to the fact that the capillary force pulls particles into the interface causing them to accelerate to a large velocity. The vertical motion of a particle during its adsorption causes a radially-outward lateral (secondary) flow on the interface that causes nearby particles to move away. We present direct numerical simulation results for the adsorption of particles and show that the inertia of a particle plays an important role in its motion in the direction normal to a fluid-liquid interface. Although the importance of inertia diminishes with decreasing particle size, on an air-water interface the inertia continues to be important even when the size is as small as a few nanometers.

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