Self-Propelled Detachment upon Coalescence of Surface Bubbles

Pengyu Lv, Pablo Peñas, Hai Le The, Jan Eijkel, Albert Van Den Berg, Xuehua Zhang*, Detlef Lohse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
56 Downloads (Pure)


The removal of microbubbles from substrates is crucial for the efficiency of many catalytic and electrochemical gas evolution reactions in liquids. The current work investigates the coalescence and detachment of bubbles generated from catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide. Self-propelled detachment, induced by the coalescence of two bubbles, is observed at sizes much smaller than those determined by buoyancy. Upon coalescence, the released surface energy is partly dissipated by the bubble oscillations, working against viscous drag. The remaining energy is converted to the kinetic energy of the out-of-plane jumping motion of the merged bubble. The critical ratio of the parent bubble sizes for the jumping to occur is theoretically derived from an energy balance argument and found to be in agreement with the experimental results. The present results provide both physical insight for the bubble interactions and practical strategies for applications in chemical engineering and renewable energy technologies like electrolysis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number235501
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2021


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