Equidistant layering of materials is central to the outstanding performance of biological minerals, such as nacre and bone, and offers exciting opportunities for classes of artificial materials with advanced functionalities. We demonstrate the self-organization of highly regular band patterns by embedding reaction–diffusion processes in mechanically responsive hydrogels. The mechanical deformation of the gel automatically regulates the local reactions conditions such that the reaction–diffusion process spontaneously generates equidistantly spaced layers. The simplicity, tunability, and generality of our self-organization strategy open exciting opportunities for exploiting reaction–diffusion processes toward fabricating components with advanced optical, mechanical, and thermal functionalities. Moreover, the here-introduced mechano-regulated chemical transport mechanism can impact our ability to understand and control pattern formation in complex and living matter.

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) , Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy
Self-Organizing Matter

van Campenhout, C., ten Napel, D., van Hecke, M., & Noorduin, W. (2022). Rapid formation of uniformly layered materials by coupling reaction–diffusion processes with mechanical responsiveness. PNAS, 119(39), e2123156119: 1–6. doi:10.1073/pnas.2123156119