Nanobubbles could improve dentists' tools

(Nanowerk News) People’s teeth-chattering experiences in the dentist’s chair could be improved by fresh insights into how tiny, powerful bubbles are formed by ultra-fast vibrations, a study suggests (Nano Letters, "Acoustothermal Nucleation of Surface Nanobubbles").
The physics of how so-called nanobubbles are generated could have a range of clinical and industrial applications, including in dental hygiene devices used to remove plaque, experts say.
Their findings could also inform the development of other technologies – such as devices to selectively target tumour cells – that harness the energy released when the bubbles burst.

Bubble formation

Edinburgh engineers ran complex supercomputer simulations to better understand the underlying mechanisms behind the formation of nanobubbles – which are tens of thousands of times smaller than a pinhead.
The team modelled the movement of individual molecules in a thin layer of water on a surface vibrating a million times faster than the flapping of a hummingbird’s wings.

Complex simulations

Their analysis revealed that nanobubbles can form either when vibrations cause the water to boil, or when the water pressure drops to a point where liquid becomes vapour – a process called cavitation.
Researchers ran their calculations using the ARCHER UK National Supercomputing Service, which is operated by EPCC, the University’s high-performance computing facility.
Source: University of Edinburg
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