Sonoluminescence

The creation of light from sound.


Probably one of the most  fascinating scientific discoveries of the 20th century has to be that of sonoluminescence.  First observed in 1934 by two German scientists from the University of Cologne during experiments with SONAR, the observance would be nearly overlooked and buried until 1989 when two American scientists were able to recreate the phenomena through what later would become known as the Single Bubble Experiment. 

The image above is an actual photograph of light being created by sound passing through a body of water. To the right is another photograph of bubbles emitting a blueish light caused from sound waves passing through the bubbles in water.  These two images capture the very essence of sonaluminescence.  The implausibility of something such as sound carrying so little potential energy, yet managing to create a moment of spectacular energy output, has left scientists & researchers alike collectively scratching their heads in search of answers.

Our fundamental principles of energy state that the collective output of energy from a source cannot be greater than the amount of energy input into a source.  This accepted principle can be witnessed in every aspect of life.  From lightbulbs to automobiles, windmills to solar panels – the amount of input energy always exceeds the total output.  The lost energy is generally dissipated through heat due to inefficient, man-made processes.  In the case of solar panels, the most efficient panels available today can only manufacture approximately 20% of energy output versus the total input.  But in the demonstration of sonoluminescence, the total output of energy far exceeds the small amount of potential energy carried via sound waves. This phenomena is even reproducible from relatively inexpensive parts widely available to the general public. All that is needed is a little ingenuity and technical know-how.

The most common, reproducible method for creating sonoluminescence is through a technique called the Single Bubble Experiment.  The goal of the experiment is to trap bubbles in the middle of a canter of water while subjecting specifically tuned sound waves through the body of water.  When executed properly, the bubbles will begin to quickly throb and implode on themselves, creating a bright light.  In a dark room, it would be easy to equate the light being created to the light emanating from a star in the sky. In fact, while there are many theories on what is actually occurring, the popular theory is that the light-emitting bubble is a miniature model of one of the many stars in our solar system.  An additional popular theory is that the bubble is actually demonstrating nuclear fusion.  Several experiments have proven the existence of extreme temperatures created in the wake of the bubbles implosion.  The only known theoretical process that could cause such extreme temperatures is through nuclear fusion – which has never been achieved through any manmade attempt.

So how can the bubble experiment results be utilized practically?

The bubble experiment demonstrates fundamental properties of nature that are not easily defined through traditional Western science or even our limited understanding of quantum physics.  However, by coupling the demonstrable results of creating light from sound with many of the other numerous fields of research we specialize in, the potential is quite extraordinary.

The knowledge yet to be gleaned from this subject area feasibly sets the stage for the seemingly impossible task of achieving near zero-point energy or unlocking the keys to demonstrable nuclear fusion.  And while these potential achievements could forever change the landscape of mankind, we at Sonalkiss are instead focusing our efforts on utilizing the finer, more discreet knowledge to be gained from this area of research to further advancements within our therapeutic & technological areas of research.