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Pattern Formation and Shape Changes in Self-Oscillating Polymer Gels

Science  03 Nov 2006:
Vol. 314, Issue 5800, pp. 798-801
DOI: 10.1126/science.1132412

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Abstract

We developed an efficient model for responsive gels that captures large-scale, two-dimensional (2D) deformations and chemical reactions within a swollen polymer network. The 2D calculations allowed us to probe not only volume changes but also changes in sample shape. By focusing on gels undergoing the oscillatory Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction, we observed traveling waves of local swelling that form a rich variety of dynamic patterns and give rise to distinctive oscillations in the gel's shape. The observed patterns depend critically on the gel's dimensions. The approach provides a useful computational tool for probing the dynamics of chemomechanical processes and uncovering morphological transformations in responsive gels.

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