The mysteries of Sonoluminescence

MT
2 min readAug 19, 2023

Sonoluminescence is really an intriguing phenomenon that’s yet to fall under any logical explanation. It embraces an unusual connection between sound, light and heat surpassing the temperatures of the surface of our Sun by nearly 4 times over.

It is the phenomenon in regard to which water lays subject to controlled frequencies (23–25kHz) that induce cavitation (formation of bubbled without boiling or addition of heat) due to reduced pressures and periodic collapses and eventually lead to emission of heat and light at astonishingly high temperatures.

According to a report published by Stanford University, there is some cause for belief to support the idea of this phenomenon being useful in nuclear fusion. However, as proven theoretically, this reaction would still be losing 98.53% of its potential energy and still not be able to reach the required temperature of 107Kelvin.

Applications of this reaction between frequency and light seem to be ambiguous and further research has yet to be conducted.

The main obstacles of further research would be obtaining accurate measurements from the inside of the flask where the bubble is located and satisfying the time requirements of the Lawson Criterion.

Apart from these, there are two competing theories in the field of sonoluminescence research- SBSL (single bubble sonoluminiscence) and MBSL (multi bubble sonoluminescence).

SBSL was only recently discovered 30 years ago, and MBSL a 30 years before that. The main difference apart from the amount of bubbles formed, lies in the heat being emitted with SBSL comparatively being in the lead. MBSL was discovered in an ultrasonic water bath accidentally during research on acoustic radar work where a series of flashing bubbled caught the attention of two professors at the University of Cologne.

A report from the International Journal of Creative Research Thoughts analyzes the differences in intensity to varying drive frequencies and concludes that below a set frequency range of 9× 1⁰⁵ hertz (approx) SBSL shows nonlinearity in terms of increasing frequency, its peaks showing numerical values upto 5 times more than that of MBSL. This could be due to the fact that multiple bubble formation result in an evenly spread out surface area of sound as a general principle, and SBSL faces the opposite.

Several experiments have since then popped up with new data and observations for optimum heat and light yield- such as the composition of water that gives higher peaks in temperature and the vitality of the dissolved air (particularly the 1% Argon) that allows sonoluminescence under “ambient conditions”.

It’s still a very intriguing field in physics and when you look at it, chemistry that brings out the thought that multiple phenomena are inter connected and reveal themselves to us in the most fascinating and absurd ways.

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MT
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Science enthusiast and teenage critic