Interfacial Polygonal Nanopatterning of Stable Microbubbles

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Science  30 May 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5880, pp. 1198-1201
DOI: 10.1126/science.1154601

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Micrometer-sized bubbles are unstable and therefore difficult to make and store for substantial lengths of time. Short-term stabilization is achieved by the addition of amphiphilic molecules, which reduce the driving force for dissolution. When these molecules crystallize on the air/liquid interface, the lifetime of individual bubbles may extend over a few months. We demonstrated low gas-fraction dispersions with mean bubble radii of less than 1 micrometer and stability lasting more than a year. An insoluble, self-assembled surfactant layer covers the surface of the microbubbles, which can result in nanometer-scale hexagonal patterning that we explain with thermodynamic and molecular models. The elastic response of the interface arrests the shrinkage of the bubbles. Our study identifies a route to fabricate highly stable dispersions of microbubbles.

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