“Chemomechanical Oscillators Driven by Simple Reactions”
Chemomechanical oscillators are reactive systems that exhibit periodic changes in both the concentrations of the chemical compounds and the total volume of the system. Previous theoretical and experimental work has demonstrated that hydrogels can undergo sustained mechanical oscillations when coupled with complex, nonlinear chemical reactions. This poses a challenge to the development of applications based on chemomechanical oscillators, like drug delivery systems or soft nanorobots. Our goal is to understand if a simple, linear chemical reaction coupled with a nonlinear structural gel response — in the form of swelling/deswelling hysteresis — can promote the formation of sustained oscillations.
We developed and analyzed a model that accounts for the reaction and transport kinetics and the gel’s structural response. Numerical integrations were performed using a finite difference method with a non-uniform grid. Preliminary results indicate the presence of damped chemical and mechanical oscillations even without the presence of hysteresis. Future investigations will study the cause of the observed damped oscillations and search for parameter values that result in sustained oscillations. Additionally, after volume hysteresis is added to the model, we will search for regions of oscillations in the parameter space.
SMURF (Summer MRSEC Undergrad Research Fellowship)