Giant and explosive plasmonic bubbles by delayed nucleation

Yuliang Wang*, Mikhail E. Zaytsev, Guillaume Lajoinie, Hai Le The, Jan C.T. Eijkel, Albert van den Berg, Michel Versluis, Bert M. Weckhuysen, Xuehua Zhang, Harold J.W. Zandvliet, Detlef Lohse (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)
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When illuminated by a laser, plasmonic nanoparticles immersed in water can very quickly and strongly heat up, leading to the nucleation of so-called plasmonic vapor bubbles. While the longtime behavior of such bubbles has been well-studied, here, using ultrahigh-speed imaging, we reveal the nucleation and early life phase of these bubbles. After some delay time from the beginning of the illumination, a giant bubble explosively grows, and collapses again within 200 µs (bubble life phase 1). The maximal bubble volume Vmax remarkably increases with decreasing laser power, leading to less total dumped energy E. This dumped energy shows a universal linear scaling relation with Vmax, irrespective of the gas concentration of the surrounding water. This finding supports that the initial giant bubble is a pure vapor bubble. In contrast, the delay time does depend on the gas concentration of the water, as gas pockets in the water facilitate an earlier vapor bubble nucleation, which leads to smaller delay times and lower bubble nucleation temperatures. After the collapse of the initial giant bubbles, first, much smaller oscillating bubbles form out of the remaining gas nuclei (bubble life phase 2). Subsequently, the known vaporization dominated growth phase takes over, and the bubble stabilizes (life phase 3). In the final life phase 4, the bubble slowly grows by gas expelling due to heating of the surrounding. Our findings on the explosive growth and collapse during the early life phase of a plasmonic vapor bubble have strong bearings on possible applications of such bubbles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7676-7681
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number30
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2018


  • Energy conversion
  • Nucleation dynamics
  • Plasmonic bubbles
  • Superheat
  • Vaporization
  • 2023 OA procedure


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