Nanoscopic gas bubbles on surfaces immersed in water, investigated in this thesis, termed “surface nanobubbles”, with diameters hundred times smaller than the diameter of a human hair and ten times smaller than the diameter of a red blood cell belong to the realm of nanoscale. Since surface nanobubbles involve three phases, i.e. gas, liquid and solid, they present an excellent system to study wetting of surfaces on the nanoscale, which becomes increasingly important in nanotechnology, biology and other fields.
The work presented in this thesis aimed toward a better understanding of the role of Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), which is the technique that is commonly used to investigate surface nanobubbles, in the outcome of the analysis of the shape and dimensions of nanobubbles. In particular, it is highly necessary to recognize the discrepancy between the apparent nanobubble shape visible in AFM images and the actual unperturbed shape of nanobubbles. This issue is particularly important because the knowledge about actual nanobubble curvature and contact angle is crucial for solving the puzzle of the long-term stability of nanobubbles, which would undoubtedly accelerate current research in the field.