MIT researchers recently translated the ebullient spirit of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy into real bubbles. On a piano-like surface—which is boiling, we have to add– bubbles are turned on and off on different areas in a fraction of a second.
H. Jeremy Cho, Jordan P. Mizerak and Evelyn Wang are part of the Mechanical Engineering department and, while illustrating controlled bubble formation, they wanted to highlight how the phenomenon has beneficial industrial applications. Controlling bubble formation is directly related to heat transfer behavior, and bubbles have a manipulation capability that has never been achieved before: being able to turn bubbles on and off allows ten times more energy to be transferred.
The researchers managed to control the bubbles without changing the heat input: instead, they first added a small amount of charged particles to the container of water and then applied a weak voltage with a counter electrode: positively charged bubbles “nucleated,” negatively charged bubbles dissolved. Read the rest of the experiment on Phys.org