American Chemical Society
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Coalescence and Stability Analysis of Surface Nanobubbles on the Polystyrene/Water Interface

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journal contribution
posted on 2014-06-03, 00:00 authored by Dayong Li, Dalei Jing, Yunlu Pan, Weijie Wang, Xuezeng Zhao
In this article, we have studied the surface nanobubbles on polystyrene (PS)/water interfaces using tapping mode atomic force microscopy (TM-AFM). Detailed bubble coalescence phenomenon of differently sized surface nanobubbles (with lateral size up to about ∼10 μm) was obtained. The quantity of gas molecules, before and after coalescence, was calculated. It was found that after coalescence the quantity of gas molecules was increased by approximately 112.5%. The possible reasons for this phenomenon were analyzed and discussed. Our analysis shows that a reasonable explanation should be an influx of gas into the bubble caused by the depinning of the contact line and the decrease in the inner pressure during bubble coalescence. The factors affecting the coalescence speed of surface bubbles were also discussed. It was found that the coalescence speed of larger bubbles is usually slower than that of the smaller ones. We also noticed that it is uncertain whether a larger or smaller bubble will move first to merge into others. This is due to the combined effects of the contact line and the surface properties. Furthermore, the temporal evolution of surface bubbles was studied. The three-phase contact line of bubbles kept the pinning within the incubation time. This was consistent with the contact line pinning theory, based on which the theoretical lifetime of the surface bubbles in our experiments was calculated to be tb ≈ 6.9 h. This value is close to the experimental results. Meanwhile, the faster gas diffusion from the oversized bubbles after 12 h of incubation was observed and analyzed. Our results indicate that a viable stability mechanism for surface nanobubbles would be favored simultaneously by the contact line pinning, gas influx near the contact line from an interfacial gas enrichment (IGE), a thin “contaminant film” around the gas/liquid interface, and even the electrostatic effect.