RESEARCH findings could improve experiences for dental patients after engineers have analysed how nanobubbles are generated.
The physics of how bubbles are generated is said to have a range of clinical and industrial applications.
The 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.
Engineers at the University of Edinburgh 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.
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.
Saikat Datta, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering, said: “We now have a better understanding of how vibrations at the smallest scale can be exploited to produce nanobubbles.
“This work has a broad scope for future research and will help researchers devise new experiments to shed further light on the generation of nanobubbles.”