Chemistry in Pictures: Unburstable bubbles | Chemical & Engineering News

Issue Date: November 28, 2017

Chemistry in Pictures: Unburstable bubbles

By Alexandra Taylor
Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: Materials, wax, graphene oxide, surfactant, bubbles, basic research
Credit: Yixin Liu
A photo of the bottom of a glass beaker filled with paraffin wax bubbles.
Credit: Yixin Liu

This glass beaker contains bubbles filled with paraffin wax in 60 °C water. The bubbles hold their shape instead of quickly disappearing thanks to graphene oxide. Graphene oxide has a special chemical structure: Its base plane is hydrophobic and attracted to wax, but it also has functional groups that are hydrophilic and attracted to water. This structure makes graphene oxide a surfactant, similar to detergent molecules. The graphene oxide molecules adsorb onto the surfaces of the wax bubbles, stabilizing them in the beaker of water. Yixin Liu at North Carolina State University is experimenting with chemically modifying the mixture of graphene oxide and wax, the applications of which are yet to be determined.

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Guido Bognolo (December 7, 2017 5:39 AM)
Very interesting conceptand realisation. It would be highy desirable to see the surface active properties confirmed for both O/W and (why not?) W/O system. I would be grateful if Mr Yixin Liu would share more details of is work, which in my wiew could be ground braking and truly innovative in the realmn of surfactants.

G. Bognolo

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