The Cohesiveness of the Oscillating Belousov-Zhabotinsky Reaction

(1) Dr. Michael M Krop Senior High School

The Oscillating Belousov-Zhabotinsky (B-Z) Reaction is a chemical reaction initially studied by Russian military officer Belousov. Oscillating reactions are characterized by a change in ion concentration overtime, a perpetual back and forth flow between two contrasting solutions. Numerous mechanisms have been proposed to underlie the B-Z reaction. The model known as the Oregonator provides a simplified mechanism to reach the oscillating state. In order to interrogate the mechanisms that enable the B-Z reaction, we performed an experiment using the Oregonator. The data was collected from the reaction at four different temperatures, 10, 22, 37, and 50°C. A Markovian Analysis was used to interpret the 300 pieces of data that were collected. The change in conductivity was measured in between each sample and the calculations were imputed into a square matrix. When the matrix was squared in each trial, we found that there were two transition states between the original and steady matrices, representing the intermediate reactions between the oscillations. These findings were unique because the transition matrices have never been analyzed using change in conductivity and Markovian sequencing. From the steady matrix at each temperature, the probability of “hopping” between different changes in conductivity was determined in the long-term analysis of the oscillations. These values were also compared to determine temperature’s effect on the cohesiveness of the oscillating B-Z reaction. The findings of this study are important to consider when applying the reaction into polymer gels, which mimic the pulsing motions of organs in the circulatory system. Understanding the oscillations of the B-Z reaction can help researchers better understand the movements of the polymer gel overtime.

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