A single bubble oscillating in a levitation cell is acoustically monitored by a piezo-ceramics microphone glued on the cell external wall. The correlation of the filtered signal recorded over distant cycles on one hand, and its harmonic content on the other hand, are shown to carry rich information on the bubble stability and existence. For example, the harmonic content of the signal is shown to increase drastically once air is fully dissociated in the bubble, and the resulting pure argon bubble enters into the upper branch of the sonoluminescence regime. As a consequence, the bubble disappearance can be unambiguously detected by a net drop in the harmonic content. On the other hand, we perturb a stable sonoluminescing bubble by approaching a micron-sized fiber. - The bubble remains unperturbed until the fiber tip is approached within a critical distance, below which the bubble becomes unstable and disappears. This distance can be easily measured by image treatment, and is shown to scale roughly with 3–4 times the bubble maximal radius.
The bubble disappearance is well detected by the drop of the microphone harmonic content, but several thousands of periods after the bubble actually disappeared. The delay is attributed to the slow extinction of higher modes of the levitation cell, excited by the bubble oscillation. The acoustic detection method should however allow the early detection and imaging of non-predictable perturbations of the bubble by foreign micron-sized objects, such as crystals or droplets.