Squeezing alcohols into sonoluminescing bubbles: The universal role of surfactants

Rüdiger Tögel, Sascha Hilgenfeldt, Detlef Lohse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We conduct an experimental study of the dependence of single bubble sonoluminescence intensity on the concentration of various alcohols. The light intensity is reduced by one-half at a molar fraction of ethanol of ˜2.5×10-5 butanol achieves the same reduction at a concentration 10 times smaller. We account for the results by a theoretical model in which the alcohols are assumed to be mechanically forced into the bubble at collapse, modifying the adiabatic exponent of the gas. The increasing hydrophobicities of the alcohols lead to decreasing effective adiabatic exponents, and thus to less heating and therefore less light. Support for this model is obtained by replotting the experimental light intensity values vs the calculated exponents, yielding a collapse of all data onto a universal curve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2509-2512
Number of pages4
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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