As the old Hawaiian love song says, tiny bubbles really do make some people feel fine. Chemists, that is. But there is no wine involved this time, just water.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) chemists reported in the June 24 online edition of Langmuir that a process called microboiling shows promise for quick, simple and inexpensive chemical sensing. The process involves the formation of tiny vapor bubbles on a 200-nanometer-thick film of precious metal immersed in water and heated rapidly. By coating the metal microheater with a single layer of water-repelling molecules, the scientists dramatically altered the microboiling behavior. Bubbles formed more obviously and at lower temperatures, and the water in immediate contact with the metal got much hotter.
"It’s astounding to me that we changed one functional group on the surface of that microheater and saw a dramatic change in the boiling behavior," says Michael Tarlov, a co-author of the paper.
Laura Ost | EurekAlert!
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