Bubbles can detect sound, with light

13 March 2017:

CNBP scientists Dr Ivan Maksymov and Prof Andy Greentree at RMIT University have shown bubbles can detect sound with light in their latest publication in the area of photo-acoustics.

“Bubbles can be a boon for detecting the kind of ultrasound used in medicine as air is less dense than water” explains Dr Ivan Maksymov, “so ultrasound can squeeze a bubble more than the water surrounding it”.

To detect the change in size, Ivan showed that the bubbles could change the amount of light that passed through a gold membrane with nanosized holes in it. “It’s incredible work, I’m really excited by how Ivan has brought together these different kinds of Physics to create something quite new”, said the study’s co-author Prof Andy Greentree.

To detect the effects of sound on the bubble, on light, Ivan had to develop new computational models. The team say that their work may be useful in the development of an optical hydrophone for detecting ultrasound inside the body. “It will give us a new and potentially more sensitive way to ‘see’ with sound” says Ivan.

The work was published in the journal Physical Review A on 13th March 2017 and was funded by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics.