Observing large but perfectly shaped bubbles in weightlessness and recording them with a high-speed camera is more than fun. Shining lasers on pure water creates vapour bubbles that collapse violently – for an instant they shine brighter than the Sun, like a miniature supernova. All this energy needs to escape somehow and the water bubbles eject high-speed water jets.
Hydraulic equipment on Earth suffers from the effects of such jets so learning more about how these bubbles work will help in designing better machines. And harnessing the heat from imploding bubbles offers promising medical applications by delivering precise bursts of energy and heat when needed.
This experiment started as a student proposal and evolved into fully fledged top scientific research.