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What do you know about sonoluminiscence? I am about to give a presentation to my freshman physics class soon and I'm having trouble to find any detailed information. I'm looking especifically to general information and current explanations of the phenomena as well as the conditions needed to reproduce it in the laboratory. I would apreciate an answer. Thanks.

Well, when I've performed sonoluminescence experiments in the laboratory (they make a kit for that, bought one for the lab about 10 years ago), I ran into the usual cycle of learning.  Single bubble sonoluminescence is a tricky experiment to perform, but nothing that an advanced undergraduate couldn't handle.  The de-gassing of the water is trickier than it is made out to be, and it is important.  I theorize that it has something to do with the 1% argon in the atmosphere that appears to be necessary to get sonoluminescence to actually work and give off light.  The light it gives off is typically very weak, but if you get the degassing right it is much stronger.

But I digress into details of actually doing the experiment.  There are many summaries of the subject by experts, and recent progress has amped up the light output of sonoluminescence all the way to 100 Watts:
That, however, is an unusual experiment involving Xenon and acids.  The exact mechanism of sonoluminescence remains unclear, but the theories laid out have merit.  The wiki entry here: contains legitimate information and formal formulations of the fluid dynamics.  This site: contains detailed experimental information in its "experiments and instructions" section in pdf format.  I also recommend the detailed scientific paper (still one of the best): and this detailed DIY experimental setup:

These are summaries of extensive work done by other people.  I've only done it in the lab to get the bubbles to collapse and flash. In a dark room, you can see it quite well.

Also, here's a cool video of an expanding and then collapsing bubble:


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Dr. Stephen O. Nelson


I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.


I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

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