PHILIPPE PLAILLY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PHILIPPE PLAILLY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Chemical waves in a Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) reagent. This is a well-mixed solution of citric acid, potassium bromate and a cerium sulphate catalyst. If the local relative concentrations in the reagent are altered, for example by the impact of a dust particle on the surface, the equilibrium of the reaction is disturbed. The reaction then oscillates between oxidation and reduction. The oscillation propogates through the solution as a concentration front (yellow lines), caused by the dynamic coupling between the propogation rate of the reaction and the rates of diffusion of the reagents. Such chemical waves may be modelled using chaos mathematics.
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