Self-oscillating gels are materials that continuously change back and forth between different states — such as color or size — without provocation from external stimuli. These changes are caused by the Belousov-Zhabotinsky chemical reaction, which was discovered during the 1950s. Without stirring or other outside influence, wave patterns from this chemical reaction can develop within the material or cause the entire gel itself to pulsate.
Irene Chou Chen, a doctoral candidate in the lab of Krystyn J. Van Vliet, the Paul M. Cook Career Development Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, has been studying exactly how adjusting the size and shape of these gels can affect their behavior.
Melanie Gonick; Additional footage: Irene Chen