Self-organized nanopatterns in multicomponent systems

Jun 18, 2012
Self-organized nanopatterns in multicomponent systems
Credit: Thinkstock

European researchers have studied a new class of self-organized nanostructures formed by the complex interdependence of chemical reactions and diffusion in multicomponent reacting systems. Project results have potential applications in nanofabrication and patterning.

Diffusion is ubiquitous. It is the means by which one smells dinner cooking in the kitchen while watching the evening news in the living room – the odour molecules drift down their concentration gradient, diffusing out of the kitchen where they are in high concentration into areas of low concentration such as the .

plays a critical role in the formation of mixtures of chemically reacting species (reaction-diffusion systems). It is complex when considering multicomponent systems undergoing in which the reactions themselves affect the diffusion of molecules and the diffusion of one component can affect the diffusion of others (cross-diffusion).

Cross-diffusion phenomena can create patterns of molecules or groups of molecules in the reacting system that appear to constitute a new class of self-organized structures.

EU-funded researchers seeking to evaluate such phenomena of multicomponent systems initiated the ‘Cross-diffusion and pattern formation in reaction diffusion systems’ (Crossdiffusionrossi) project.

Initial theoretical studies suggested that the complex patterns can be on the scale of tens to hundreds of nanometres with diffusion-controlled reactions supporting a potential role in nanotechnological innovations.

Scientists chose the Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) reaction in water-in-oil dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (AOT) microemulsions (ME) to extend previous results for four-component systems to five-component systems. They developed a new theoretical method for calculation of cross-diffusion coefficients based on an extension of the procedure for four-component systems. The innovative new method led to first-time measurements of cross-diffusion coefficients in a five-component mixture.

Building on these results, researchers assessed the role of cross-diffusion in pattern formation of the BZ-AOT system where it was found to produce a noticeable shift in equilibria, or in the onset of Turing instability. Turing patterns abound in nature, seen in chemicals in dishes and in the spots of a leopard’s coat. They may play a role in tissue formation and even the formation of galaxies.

Continuation of the project should lead to identification of novel patterns and mechanisms for controlling . Potential commercial applications include tissue regeneration (forming functional patterns of cells from stem cells) and in solar technology, biological sensors and electronics devices.

Explore further: Discarded cigarette ashes could go to good use—removing arsenic from water

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Glowing beacons reveal hidden order in dynamical systems

Oct 19, 2011

A dynamical system in which repeated measurements on a single particle yield the same mean result as a single measurement of the whole ensemble is said to be ergodic. The ergodic theorem expresses a fundamental physical principle, ...

Testing a 40-year old cell membrane theory

Jun 15, 2012

European researchers conducted state-of-the-art high-resolution imaging experiments of protein diffusion in artificial cell membranes. Results provided the first experimental evidence of an important theory ...

Physicists take inspiration from spilled milk

Aug 12, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Two Lehigh physicists have developed an imaging technique that makes it possible to directly observe light-emitting excitons as they diffuse in a new material that is being explored for its ...

Recommended for you

Towards controlled dislocations

8 hours ago

Crystallographic defects or irregularities (known as dislocations) are often found within crystalline materials. Two main types of dislocation exist: edge and screw type. However, dislocations found in real ...

Chemists tackle battery overcharge problem

Oct 17, 2014

Research from the University of Kentucky Department of Chemistry will help batteries resist overcharging, improving the safety of electronics from cell phones to airplanes.

Surface properties command attention

Oct 17, 2014

Whether working on preventing corrosion for undersea oil fields and nuclear power plants, or for producing electricity from fuel cells or oxygen from electrolyzers for travel to Mars, associate professor ...

User comments : 0