Flexing gels

Japanese researchers led by Shingo Maeda at Waseda University have developed a polymer gel that can undergo peristaltic motion, without an external stimulus. They describe their invention in Angewandte Chemie and explain that the "living" gel exploits the Belousov-Zhabotinsky clock reaction. The team synthesized an ionic gel consists of cross-linked NIPAAm and ruthenium monomers. When this material is immersed in an aqueous solution containing the BZ reaction ingredients, minus the usual catalyst, the polymer network and the BZ reaction are triggered within the gel itself. The peristaltic material could be exploited in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).