Bubble Formation in Physical and Biological Systems: A Manifestation of Counterdiffusion in Composite Media

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Science  09 Feb 1973:
Vol. 179, Issue 4073, pp. 582-584
DOI: 10.1126/science.179.4073.582


The counterdiffusion of gases across a composite layer can lead to supersaturation and development of bubbles within the layer. A physicochemical model has been derived to predict the extent of such supersaturation; experiments with inert liquid layers confirm predictions. These findings explain the evolution of cutaneous lesions observed in man during simulated deep-sea dives and the cutaneous lesions and intravascular bubbles experimentally induced in pigs by exchanging certain inert gases across the skin. The phenomena associated with counterdiffusion have widespread physical and biological implications.