Tiny explosions

Project summary

High-speed study of microscale explosions using high-pressure gas bubbles embedded in a soft solid. When low pressure regions in a fluid collapse they can cause a phenomenon known as cavitation, when the fluid vaporizes and forms microbubbles. This phenomenon damages underwater surfaces, such as naval vessel hulls, as well as pumps and pipes in industrial service.

It is also used by animals like the mantis shrimp to destroy or disable prey by cracking the shells of molluscs, for example. Cavitation is also used in warfare, as depth charges are underwater explosions that are directed to rupture submarine hulls by the pressure gradient caused by the sub’s presence.

Project objectives

  • Study high-pressure bubble expansion and collapse from a soft solid matrix into a fluid using high-speed microscopy.
  • Develop antibacterial surfaces that “blast” cells as they attach
  • Safe simulation of detonation of more powerful explosives
  • New models of mouth feel during consumption of carbonated beverages and foods