Self-Oscillating Membranes: Chemomechanical Sheets Show Autonomous Periodic Shape Transformation

Ido Levin, Robert Deegan, Eran Sharon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


While living organisms have mastered the dynamic control of residual stresses within sheets to induce shape transformation and locomotion, man-made implementations are rudimentary. We present the first autonomously shape-shifting sheets made of a gel that shrinks and swells in response to the phase of an oscillatory chemical (Belousov-Zhabotinsky) reaction. Propagating reaction-diffusion fronts induce localized deformation of the gel. We show that these localized deformations prescribe a spatiotemporal pattern of Gaussian curvature, leading to time-periodic global shape changes. We present the computational tools and experimental protocols needed to control this system, principally the relationship between the Gaussian curvature and the reaction phase, and optical imprinting of the wave pattern. Together, our results demonstrate a route for developing fully autonomous soft machines mimicking some of the locomotive capabilities of living organisms.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number178001
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number17
StatePublished - Oct 2020

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© 2020 American Physical Society.


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