A team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have demonstrated “resuscitation” of Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) gels by mechanical compression. BZ gels are a peculiar breed of gel which self-oscillate in the absence of external stimuli.
The researchers published their findings online in the March 26th issue of Advanced Functional Materials. They demonstrated that oscillation in a previously non-oscillating BZ gel can be triggered by external mechanical compression, a finding which may have implications for pressure sensors used in robotic and prosthetic applications in the future.
As you can see from the video, the oscillation is visible as changes in the color of the gel. These visible oscillations can be used to indicate the location of the compression and also transmit stress information away from the compressed site without the need for wires.
University of Pittsburgh press release: Oscillating Gel Acts Like Artificial Skin, Giving Robots Potential Ability to “Feel”…
Abstract in Advanced Functional Materials: Mechanical Resuscitation of Chemical Oscillations in Belousov–Zhabotinsky Gels