Acoustothermal Nucleation of Surface Nanobubbles

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Ultrasonic surface vibration at high frequencies ((100 GHz)) can nucleate bubbles in a liquid within a few nanometres from a surface, but the underlying mechanism and the role of surface wettability remain poorly understood. Here, we employ molecular simulations to study and characterize this phenomenon, which we call acoustothermal nucleation. We observe that nanobubbles can nucleate on both hydrophilic and hydrophobic surfaces, and molecular energy balances are used to identify whether these are boiling or cavitation events. We rationalize the nucleation events by defining a physics-based energy balance, which matches our simulation results. To characterize the interplay between the acoustic parameters, surface wettability, and nucleation mechanism, we produce a regime map of nanoscopic nucleation events that connects observed nanoscale results to macroscopic experiments. This work provides insights to better design a range of industrial processes and clinical procedures such as surface treatments, mass spectroscopy, and selective cell destruction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1267–1273
Number of pages7
JournalNano Letters
Issue number3
Early online date25 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • acoustothermal nucleation
  • boiling
  • cavitation
  • nanobubbles
  • Vibrations
  • wettability


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