We report a quasi-three-dimensional observation of electron-beam-induced nanobubbles inside a 1000 nm thick layer of water using the liquid cell electron microscopy. In the early stage of observation, heterogeneous bubble nucleation occurred, and small bubbles coalesced with the adjacent bubbles when they come in contact with each other. However, for the first time, we found that after prolonged electron beam irradiation heterogeneous nucleation did not occur more, and then homogeneous nucleation started even though a solid surface was available for heterogeneous nucleation. We conclude that the Ostwald ripening effect prevents heterogeneous nucleation from occurring and that the lower surface tension due to the generation of ions and radicals boosts the homogeneous nucleation. It was also discovered that the generation sites of homogeneous nucleation are beneath the three-phase contact lines of existing interfacial bubbles.
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