Pattern Formation by Interacting Chemical Fronts

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Science  09 Jul 1993:
Vol. 261, Issue 5118, pp. 192-194
DOI: 10.1126/science.261.5118.192


Experiments on a bistable chemical reaction in a continuously fed thin gel layer reveal a new type of spatiotemporal pattern, one in which fronts propagate at a constant speed until they reach a critical separation (typically 0.4 millimeter) and stop. The resulting asymptotic state is a highly irregular stationary pattern that contrasts with the regular patterns such as hexagons, squares, and stripes that have been observed in many nonequilibrium systems. The observed patterns are initiated by a finite amplitude perturbation rather than through spontaneous symmetry breaking.