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Tom Solomon : Front propagation and pattern formation in the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction

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We present experiments on pattern formation and front propagation in the Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) chemical reaction in flowing systems with chaotic advection. The flow is a chain of alternating vortices that oscillate and/or drift in the lateral direction. Mixing between the vortices is chaotic in this flow with either (enhanced) diffusive or superdiffusive transport. Experiments with the excitable BZ reaction are used to study the motion of reaction fronts in this system. If the vortices oscillates laterally, reaction fronts typically mode-lock to the external forcing. If the vortices drift with constant velocity, fronts typically pin to the leading vortex, remaining motionless in a reference frame that drifts with the vortices. Experiments with the oscillatory BZ reaction are used to study synchronization of a network of oscillators by chaotic mixing. We find that the system is globally-synchronized only if the long-range transport is superdiffusive, characterized by Levy flight trajectories. Time-permitting, we will also present results of experiments on chemical fronts and patterns in a two-dimensional array of vortices.

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