Four kinds of surfactants, sodium laurate, sodium myristate, sodium palmitate and sodium oleate were used to study the effects of surfactant coatings on the lifetime and attenuation of microbubbles. The changes in the size distribution of microbubbles prepared with these surfactants in saline were measured with a Coulter Multisizer (Coulter Electronics Ltd., Luton, UK). Frequency characteristics of ultrasonic attenuation of the microbubble suspensions were measured between 400 kHz and 6 MHz. From the changes in attenuation in the microbubble suspensions over time, it was found that the lifetime of microbubbles in a suspension also depends on the frequency of the irradiating ultrasound. The effect of surfactants on the frequency characteristics of attenuation was also studied, and characteristics of the surfactant coating, including shell elasticity and shell friction parameters were calculated from the measurement results. Microbubbles produced with sodium palmitate had the longest lifetime and the smallest average size. The shell had very little effect on the ultrasonic properties of microbubbles produced with sodium palmitate, suggesting that the sodium palmitate microbubbles behaved ultrasonically as free microbubbles.
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