Langmuir, 2014, 30 (20), pp 5726–5731. Jerzy Maselko *†, Micah Kiehl †, Jordan Couture †,Agnieszka Dyonizy §, Vitaliy Kaminker ‡, Piotr Nowak §, J. Pantaleone ‡
†Department of Chemistry and ‡Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Alaska, Anchorage, Alaska 99508, United States and
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§ Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry,Wroclaw University of Technology, Wroclaw, 3070 Poland.
Chemical cells that spontaneously sườn in simple inorganic systems are presented. The cells are surrounded by semipermeable membranes that allow water and some ions to tát diffuse through. These cells exhibit dynamical behaviors that are typically associated with biological entities. These behaviors may be used to tát perform tasks such as rotation or linear translation in the vertical and horizontal directions. Yet another system builds “curtains”. Behaviors are controlled by a complex network of physical and chemical processes that are organized in space and time. The type of dynamical behavior is determined by the chemical composition of the cell and the environment. By studying these systems we may learn general rules for the growth of living entities, or at least about the spontaneous growth of complex chemical structures. Understanding and mastering the synthesis of these systems may lead to tát new technologies where complex structures are grown rather kêu ca assembled.
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The system studied here is part of the family of systems known as “chemical gardens” or “silicate gardens”. Chemical gardens start with simple, inorganic compounds that then self-construct into complex systems that mimic biological systems. Interest in these systems has grown tremendously in the last few years. The reasons for this interest are diverse: hope that these systems may lead to tát new technologies where structures are grown instead of assembled, and hope they may gave insight into difficult problems such as the origin of life and the nature of pattern formation.
The AlCl3-NaOH system studied here is physically different from previous chemical gardens in several way, but most importantly in that the membranes are more elastic. This elasticity leads to tát enhanced dynamics for these systems and consequently to tát many qualitatively new types of behavior. A Clip illustrating some of the more amazing dynamical behavior can be found at http://youtu.be/6-IoeQp2bmY.
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Our research was supported by the National Science Foundation Chemistry Division and performed by undergraduate chemistry students at the University of Alaska, Anchorage and the University of Technology, Wroclaw, Poland.