Bubbles are soft, delicate, gorgeous, and can be assumed to be gone within a few seconds. Such a factor is somehow negated by the team of physicists who have developed a technique using the intrinsic properties of bubbles. They have challenged the cliche by creating a bubble that held its shape for 465 days.
The team, led by Aymeric Roux of the University of Lille in France, has used glycerin that could help scientists develop new materials such as films.”We show that covering a bubble water shell with microparticles inhibits gravity-induced drainage and that further adding glycerol leads to a stable state, wherein the evaporation of water is counterbalanced by the hygroscopicity of glycerol, which absorbs water molecules contained in ambient air,” they have mentioned in their paper.
The three things that are associated with the short lifespan of a bubble are “gravity” that can drain material from the bubble membrane, “evaporation” which can diminish the amount of liquid in a bubble, and the presence of “tiny nuclei in the air” that can destabilize the whole matter inside. Recent inventions, “Gas marbles” were utilized by the team to analyze the situation of expanding the lifespan of the bubble. Gas marbles are actually the droplets of liquid coated with microscopic, liquid-repelling beads, which can roll around on a solid surface without breaking apart. These gas bubbles are surrounded by ambient gas.
Such marbles are allowed to maintain their structure even when touched through the usage of some kind of polymer. The team wanted to see if they can keep such gas marble intact for a long period of time, so they utilized different kinds of bubbles and experimented with them. Soap bubbles were there for a point of comparison. The team has also developed gas marbles of nylon particles and water, nylon particles, and a mix of water and glycerol.
It was noticed that the soap bubbles couldn’t last longer than a minute. The water-based gas marbles managed to live a bit longer – surviving for durations between 6 and 60 minutes. On the other hand, the marbles with glycerol water survived for a much longer time, they lasted for about the maximum time period of 465 days.
Thus all such observations have led them to believe that the bubbles having glycerol were long-lasting and hence this chemical was one of the reasons for the long lifespan of these marbles. Glycerol is a hygroscopic material, it readily absorbs the moisture from surroundings. In addition to the glycerol, the nylon particles prevent the bubble membrane from flowing by gravity.
The researchers have written about the replacements of surfactants with partially wetting particles and the water with a glycerol mixture and their integrity for more than a year. The research has been published in Physical Review Fluids.