Cavitation and bubble dynamics

Cavitation and bubble dynamics link to the mysterious physical phenomenon of how a pistol shrimp hunts, fun party trick that breaks a beer bottle with bare hands. When the bubbles collapse, shock waves, high temperatures, high-speed jets occur and can cause damage. On the other hand, the power of these bubbles can also be harnessed for good. Cavitation can be used to break up kidney stones, kill bacteria without using chemicals, and even in the production of beer and chocolate. Please see below for examples of our research in this realm.

Test tubes

A common lab mishap involves a test tube filled with chemical solution, which is inadvertently dropped on the floor. The tube cracks and the liquid spills out. The physical process of this failure is counterintuitive: it is not the mild impact (a) itself that breaks the glass; rather, the impact induced a high acceleration, which caused cavitation bubble(s) to grow (b) and collapse (c) in the liquid, which cracks the glass at the collapse location (d). We use high-speed photography to revile this phenomenon and provided theoretical explanations. Results from this project was published in PNASandJ. Fluid Mech., and may provide novel pathological insights into impact-induced Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).