It is well known that a high-power laser could breakdown liquid [1, 2]. Laser-induced breakdown of liquids is characterized by fast plasma formation after evaporation of liquid and subsequent vapor expansion accompanied by shock wave emission [2]. The bubble wall velocity after the shock departure has been found to be sufficiently high to produce emission of light at the collapse point [3]. Recently, bubble formation on the surface of gold nanoparticles irradiated by a high-power laser in water [4, 5] has been studied for medical applications such as cancer diagnosis and possible therapy [5]. However, it is very hard to perform these experiments and to obtain good data from the bubble formation on the surface of laser-irradiated nano-particles because the nanoparticles dispersed in liquid cannot be controlled properly. In this study, laser-induced bubble formation on a micro gold particle levitated at the center of a spherical flask under ultrasound was investigated experimentally. The obtained results are compared with the results for laser cavitation without the gold particle, i.e., typical laser-induced cavitation.

Figure 1 shows a schematic of the experimental setup used to investigate the laser-induced bubble formation on a micro gold particle. Two disk-type lead zirconate titanate (PZT) transducers (Channel Industries Inc.; 15 mm in diameter and 5.0 mm in thickness) attached to the side of the wall of the cell produced a velocity stagnation point near the center of the flask. The driving frequency of the PZT transducers was approximately 27.0 kHz which was close to the resonance frequency of the LRC circuit (Its capacitor unis is PZT.) and the acoustic resonance frequency of the water-filled flask. A drop of water containing gold particles with an average diameter of 10 μm are dispersed was injected into a 100-ml pyrex spherical flask filled with degassed water. When the body force of a gold particle in liquid is slightly lower than the Bjerknes force [6] induced by ultrasound, the particle will stay near the pressure antinode, i.e., the center of the flask.

A Q-switched Nd:Yag laser delivered a single pulse of 0.5 ns in width with an energy of 7.5 mJ at a wavelength of 1064 nm to the gold particle or liquid at the center of the cell. The laser light was focused at the center of the flask using a lens with an effective focal length of 36.3 mm. Bubble formation and subsequent growth and collapse were visuallized by a high-speed camera (V2511, Phantom, USA) with 0.45 Mfps (million frames per second). The time-dependent radius was also obtained by the light scattering method. The scattering angle chosen was 80 degree where one-to-one relationship exists between the scattered intensity and the bubble radius [7]. The scattered intensity from a bubble illuminated by a 5-mW He-Ne laser was received by a photomultiplier tube (PMT: Hamamatsu, R2027) and was recorded in an oscilloscope. The scattering data were calibrated using the maximum radius for different bubble, which was obtained by high-speed camera.

The shock strength during the expansion stage of bubbles was measured by a calibrated needle hydrophone (HPM1, Precision Acoustics, UK) at various distances from the center of the cell for different bubbles. The hydrophone can measure acoustic signals ranging from 1 kPa to 20 MPa. The hydrophone was attached to a three-dimensional micro stage so that fine control of the positioning of the hydrophone was possible.

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