Anisotropically self-oscillating gels by spatially patterned interpenetrating polymer network†
Here we introduce sub-millimeter self-oscillating gels that undergo the Belousov–Zhabotinsky (BZ) reaction and can anisotropically oscillate like cardiomyocytes. The anisotropically self-oscillating gels in this study were realized by spatially patterning an acrylic acid-based interpenetrating network (AA-IPN). We found that the patterned AA-IPN regions, locally introduced at both ends of the gels through UV photolithography, can constrain the horizontal gel shape deformation during the BZ reaction. In other words, the two AA-IPN regions could act as a physical barrier to prevent isotropic deformation. Furthermore, we controlled the anisotropic deformation behavior during the BZ reaction by varying the concentration of acrylic acid used in the patterning process of the AA-IPN. As a result, a specific directional deformation behavior (66% horizontal/vertical amplitude ratio) was fulfilled, similar to that of cardiomyocytes. Our study can provide a promising insight to fabricating robust gel systems for cardiomyocyte modeling or designing novel autonomous microscale soft actuators.