Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: Sonoluminescence in air?

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 03/29/2015
Sonoluminescence, is it possible to recreate in air? Can a precollapsed bubble in air be sustained or be large enough to be buoyant? Can the heat from the imploding bubble be hot enough to make a Sonoluminescence lightsaber, say with a line of collapsing bubbles in air? Without a beaker or flask involved, would an arrangement of multiple sound transducers set to intersect their waves at some point could mimic the environment of a beaker/flask?
- Llia (age 35)
Kaneohe, Hawaii, USA

Hello Llia,
    The phenomenon of sonoluminescence - thus far - has only been observed in *polar* liquids - i.e. liquids composed of molecules with permanent electric dipole moments....

    This fact implies that the physical/electromagnetic properties of the medium in which the bubble is immersed plays a critical role in the sonoluminescence phenomenon...

    Air is primarily composed of N2 & O2 molecules, and trace amounts of CO2 & argon - none of which are polar. Hence, it is unlikely that sonoluminesence in air is possible...

    Additionally, e.g. in ultrasonic acoustic levitation experiments, no one {yet} has detected the emission of light emanating from the acoustic foci...

LeeH with consulting help from SteveE


(published on 03/29/2015)

Follow-up on this answer.