A deliberation on nanobubbles at surfaces and in bulk

Chemphyschem. 2012 Jun 4;13(8):2179-87. doi: 10.1002/cphc.201100900. Epub 2012 Feb 29.


Surface and bulk nanobubbles are two types of nanoscopic gaseous domain that have recently been discovered in interfacial physics. Both are expected to be unstable to dissolution because of the high internal pressure driving diffusion and the surface tension which squeezes the gas out, but there is a rapidly growing body of experimental evidence that demonstrates both bubble types to be stable. However, the two types of bubbles also differ in many respects: surface nanobubble stability is most probably assisted by the nearby wall, which can repel the water (in the case of hydrophobicity), accept physisorbed gas molecules, and reduce the surface area through which outfluxing can occur; bulk nanobubbles, on the other hand, must stabilise themselves. This is perhaps through ionic shielding, perhaps through diffusive shielding, or perhaps through both. Herein, the features of both bubble types are described individually, their common and disparate features are discussed, and emerging applications are examined.