Nonlinear Bubble-Sound Interaction Phenomena

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Department of Chemical Engineering


Sonoluminescence is a fascinating and beautiful phenomenon that is probably best described as an emission of light which occurs when a liquid is subjected to intense sound waves. Sonoluminescence can be reproduced with simple equipment, costing just a few hundred pounds, yet it can appear as regular pulses of light lasting less than a billionth of a second, and is known to be associated with the attainment of temperatures in excess of 100,000 K, pressures in excess of 10 million bar and with a concentration of mechanical energy of up to 12 orders of magnitude. For this reason, the phenomenon has been termed `A Star in a Jar. Sonoluminescence is associated with nonlinear bubble-sound interactions that have a host of technological applications including surface cleaning, cell disruption, surgical procedures, nanoparticle formation and the activation of chemical reactions. Nevertheless, many mysteries remain about the true nature of sonoluminescence and the conditions reached within a collapsing bubble. Recent experiments have hinted at the attainment of conditions even more extreme than those reported hitherto and it seems to us to be very worthwhile to extend these studies.We plan to conduct experiments in which oscillating bubbles are caused to collapse (or implode) even more energetically that in previous work, and we will monitor the process by measuring the intensity and spectrum of the emitted light. At the same time, we will develop computer models of the process and refine them using data gathered in our experiments. It has been claimed that it might even be possible to reach the conditions needed for nuclear fusion to occur within a collapsing bubble. This seems doubtful, but we shall see.


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