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Belousov Zhabotinsky Autonomic Hydrogel Composites: Regulating Waves via Asymmetry (Postprint)

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Journal Article

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AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate Wright Patterson Air Force Base United States

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Belousov-Zhabotinsky BZ autonomic hydrogel composites contain active nodes of immobilized catalyst Ru encased within a nonactive matrix. Designing functional hierarchies of chemical and mechanical communication between these nodes enables applications ranging from encryption, sensors, and mechanochemical actuators to artificial skin. However, robust design rules and verification of computational models are challenged by insufficient understanding of the relative importance of local molecular heterogeneities, active node shape, and embedment geometry on transient and steady-state behavior. We demonstrate the predominance of asymmetric embedment and node shape in low-strain, BZ-gelatin composites and correlate behavior with gradients in BZ reactants. Asymmetric embedment of square and rectangular nodes results in directional steady-state waves that initiate at the embedded edge and propagate toward the free edge. In contrast, symmetric embedment does not produce preferential wave propagation because of a lack of diffusion gradient across the catalyzed region.

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  • Laminates and Composite Materials
  • Physical Chemistry

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