Visualization of Bubble Nucleation and Growth Confined in 2D Flakes

Zhouyang Zhang, Jun Qiang, Shensong Wang, Ming Xu, Min Gan, Zhenggang Rao, Tingfang Tian, Shanming Ke, Yangbo Zhou, Yongming Hu, Chi Wah Leung, Chee Leung Mak, Linfeng Fei

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The nucleation and growth of bubbles within a solid matrix is a ubiquitous phenomenon that affects many natural and synthetic processes. However, such a bubbling process is almost “invisible” to common characterization methods because it has an intrinsically multiphased nature and occurs on very short time/length scales. Using in situ transmission electron microscopy to explore the decomposition of a solid precursor that emits gaseous byproducts, the direct observation of a complete nanoscale bubbling process confined in ultrathin 2D flakes is presented here. This result suggests a three-step pathway for bubble formation in the confined environment: void formation via spinodal decomposition, bubble nucleation from the spherization of voids, and bubble growth by coalescence. Furthermore, the systematic kinetics analysis based on COMSOL simulations shows that bubble growth is actually achieved by developing metastable or unstable necks between neighboring bubbles before coalescing into one. This thorough understanding of the bubbling mechanism in a confined geometry has implications for refining modern nucleation theories and controlling bubble-related processes in the fabrication of advanced materials (i.e., topological porous materials).

Original languageEnglish
Article number2103301
Issue number39
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • bubbles
  • coalescence
  • in situ TEM
  • neck structures
  • nucleation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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