How nanobubbles lose stability: Effects of surfactants

QX Xiao and YW Liu and ZJ Guo and ZP Liu and XR Zhang, APPLIED PHYSICS LETTERS, 111, 131601 (2017).

DOI: 10.1063/1.5000831

In contrast to stability theories of nanobubbles, the molecular mechanism of how nanobubbles lose stability is far from being understood. In this work, we try to interpret recent experimental observations that the addition of surfactants destabilizes nanobubbles with an unclear mechanism. Using molecular dynamics simulations, we identify two surfactant-induced molecular mechanisms for nanobubbles losing stability, either through depinning of a contact line or reducing vapor-liquid surface tension. One corresponds to the case with significant adsorption of surfactants on the substrates, which causes depinning of the nanobubble contact line and thus leads to nanobubble instability. The other stresses surfactant adsorption on the vapor- liquid interface of nanobubbles, especially for insoluble surfactants, which reduces the surface tension of the interface and leads to an irreversible liquid-to-vapor phase transition. Our finding can help improve our understanding in nanobubble stability, and the insight presented here has implications for surface nanobubbles involving with other amphiphilic molecules, such as proteins and contaminations. Published by AIP Publishing.

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