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French researchers have discovered how to wrap up a gas in a kind of bubble that is much stronger than the sort you can blow from a soap film. They call their bubbles gas marbles. The spheres have a tough shell made from a closely packed layer of tiny plastic particles, and the team says that the marbles could be useful for a wide range of purposes, such as stabilizing foams or sequestering toxic gases.

Gas marbles are relatives of so-called liquid marbles—droplets of liquid coated with microscopic, liquid-repelling beads, which can roll around on a solid surface without breaking apart. Liquid marbles might find uses as chemical sensors or microreactors. They maintain their shape because of the surface tension and incompressibility of the liquid, but gas marbles have only vapor inside.

Another similar structure called an armored bubble has also been studied previously. These gas bubbles within a liquid have their gas-liquid interface strengthened by the absorption of water-repelling particles.

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