Massive generation of metastable bulk nanobubbles in water by external electric fields

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Science Advances  03 Apr 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 14, eaaz0094
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz0094


Nanobubbles (NBs) are nanoscopic gaseous domains than can exist on solid surfaces or in bulk liquids. They have attracted substantial attention due to their long-time (meta)stability and a high potential for real-world applications. Using an approach not previously investigated, we exploit surface-electrostatic NB formation and stabilization via application of external electric fields in gas-liquid systems, with the marked result of massively increased gas uptake into the liquid in NB form. The de facto gas solubility enhancement (over many months) ranges from 2.5-fold for oxygen to 30-fold for methane vis-à-vis respective Henry’s law values for gas solubility; the more hydrophobic the gas, the more spectacular the increase. Molecular dynamics simulations reveal that the origin of NBs’ movement lies in dielectrophoresis, while substantial NB stabilization arises from a surface-polarization interaction.

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