Progress on the Surface Nanobubble Story: What is in the bubble? Why does it exist?
Advances in Colloid & Interface Science, August 2015
Hong Peng, Greg R. Birkett, Anh V. Nguyen
Interfaces between aqueous solutions and hydrophobic solid surfaces are important in various areas of science and technology. Many researchers have found that forces between hydrophobic surfaces in aqueous solution are significantly different from the classical DLVO theory. Long-range attractive forces (non-DLVO forces) are thought to be affected by nanoscopic gaseous domains at the interfaces. This is a review of the latest research on nanobubbles at hydrophobic surfaces from experimental and simulation studies. The review focusses on non-intrusive optical view of surface nanobubbles and gas enrichment on solid surfaces by imaging and force mapping. By use of these recent experimental data in conjunction with molecular simulation work, all major theories on surface nanobubble formation and stability are critically reviewed. Even though the current body of research cannot comprehensively explain all properties of surface nanobubbles observed, the fundamental understanding has been significantly improved. Line tension has been shown to be incapable of explaining the contact angle of nanobubbles. Dense gas layer theory provides a new explanation on both large contact angle and long-time stability. The high density of gas in these domains may significantly affect the gas-water interface which is in line with some observation made on bulk nanobubbles. Along this line of inquiry, experimental and simulation effort should be focussed on measuring the density within surface nanobubbles and the properties of the gas water interface which may be the key to explaining the stability of these nanobubbles.
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