Blog: The Belousov-Zhabotinsky Reaction (2013-01-29)

For a course on reaction-diffusion equations, we (a group of mathematics PhD students at the University of Graz) did a kind of "project" last week (see picture meta-data for the exact time & place if you're interested): We met with two chemistry students at the TU Graz, and together worked on the famous Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction. We explained to them how oscillations can occur in a dynamical system in terms of the Poincré-Bendixson theorem. In exchange, they supervised us in actually trying out the reaction in the lab.

For us, this was quite an interesting experience! (But I also hope our dry mathematics were also somewhat interesting for them.) When we had gotten our lab coats, one of my colleagues summarised it brilliantly as: "Whoo! I feel like a scientist!" Below, you find some pictures I took during the project—but since they are mine, unfortunately I'm not on any of them, just all the others.

Lab Experience Lab Experience Lab Experience Lab Experience Lab Experience Lab Experience

Of course, I also recorded a short video (in 3x speed-up) of the reaction, although it is not as "cool" as others on the web. Finally, two more pictures: One of a computer measurement of the absorbance of our solution over time showing the oscillations, and one of the solution exhibiting also spatial patterns (with increased contrast and still not very well visible, unfortunately).

Absorbance measured over time Spatial patterns form

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