Physicists Just Smashed a Record by Keeping a Bubble Intact For Over a Year

Many people think of a soap bubble when they think of the word "ephemeral".

A team of physicists led by Aymeric Roux of the University of Lille in France created a bubble that lasted 465 days.

The team's creation, made with the help of glycerol, could help scientists develop new materials, such as foams and films.

"We show that covering a bubble water shell with microparticles prevents gravity-induced drainage and that further adding glycerol leads to a stable state," they wrote.

"This results in bubbles which can keep their integrity in a standard atmosphere for more than one year, with no significant evolution of their radius."

There are three things that contribute to the short lifespan of a bubble. The very presence of tiny nuclei in the air can cause a lot of problems.

The team looked at a new invention called "gas marbles" to see if they could expand the lifespan of the bubble. These gas bubbles are made of liquid and partially-wet particles and surrounded by gas.

The particles allow the marbles to maintain their structural integrity even when touched.

They wanted to see if they could make a gas marble remain intact for a long time, so they created different kinds of bubbles. The team constructed gas marbles of nylon particles and water, and nylon particles and a mix of water and glycerol, as a point of comparison.

The soap bubbles did not last very long. The water-based gas marbles lasted between 6 and 60 minutes.

The glycerol-water marbles had a lifespan of 465 days, which was longer than 101 days.

The team notes that this is the result of adding glycerol. This substance is a hygroscopic material, that is, it is easy to absorb water from the surrounding environment or the atmosphere.

The nylon particles prevent the bubble from draining away, and the glycerol replenishes the water in the atmosphere. The bubble becomes impervious to being popped by those gas nuclei when the two phenomena are no longer present.

The bubble was able to maintain its structure for long periods.

The researchers have shown that air bubbles can be created by substituting partially-wet particles and water with a water/glycerol mixture.

A detailed model of the material's properties was constructed by the team and used to create pyramids that were stretched over a metal frame.

The researchers note that these achievements suggest that an entire new class of objects could be created from this mix of materials.

The research has been published.