Zubbles: The Colored Soap Bubbles

Bubbles have long been a source of delight and fascination for children the world over and a subject related to colloidal chemistry.

Now, after ten years of experiments and discoveries, the creative minds at Ascadia have done what scientists claimed was impossible… we’ve combined the simple joy of bubbles with the beauty and magic of color, inventing the world’s first real colored bubbles.

For the first time, children will be able to choose their favorite Zubbles from a range of rich, vibrant colors, and experience the magic of watching colored bubbles float through the air. And, using a new class of patent pending specialty dyes developed by C2C Technologies, the color in Zubbles magically disappears when exposed to air, water or pressure.

How they work

In a normal soap bubble, surfactants lessen the surface tension of the water and allow the bubble to form. To create a colored bubble, dye molecules must bond to the surfactants. Each dye molecule in Zubbles is a structure known as a lactone ring. When the ring is closed, the molecule absorbs all visible light except for the color of the bubble. However, subjecting the lactone ring to air, water or pressure, causes the ring to open. This changes the molecule’s structure to a straight chain which absorbs no visible light.

zubble-2.jpg

Lactone rings can be produced whenever a long chain molecule contains acid functionality on one end, and alcohol functionality at the other. The two ends of the molecule react in a condensation reaction, ejecting a water molecule. To drive the reaction back towards the long chain, pressure, heat or an excess of water must be added. This is why the Zubbles dye disappears when you splash water on it, or rub it with your fingers.

zubble-1.jpg

Learn more about surfactants on the website Wikipedia

Here you will see a chemical commercially called TWEEN-80 which is a Polysorbate 80; it is often used in ice cream to prevent milk proteins from completely coating the fat droplets. This allows them to join together in chains and nets, to hold air in the mixture, and provide a firmer texture, holding its shape as the ice cream melts.

Polysorbate 80 is also used in commercial pickle products.

Interestingly, this chemical is also used in oil industry; it is added to acid which is used for stimulation of limestone reservoir, to retard the reaction with formation so that deeper penetration is achieved; itemulsifies the acid so that it becomes hydrophobic and does not react with rock immediataley at the mouth, it penetrates and as it acquires higher temperature (=>80°C) emulsion breaks and free acid is liberated. It was tested in the RGL, ONGC, Panvel for use in Mumbai High field.

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Author: Ranjit Singh

I am working as a scientist in the India's premium E&P oil company. Besides the commitment to my job, I read lot of literature especially good fiction, history and science. I belong to Chandigarh and did my Masters in Chemistry from Panjab University Chandigarh specializing in physical chemistry. I am fond of surfing the internet for good articles, social networking and giving vent to writing for which I have aptly chosen the blog in Wordpress. Thanks

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