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Yan Fang1 Victor Yashin1 Samuel Dickerson1 Anna Balazs1

1, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

We recently designed an example of “materials that compute”, where the material and computer are one and the same entity, and demonstrated the ability of these systems to perform pattern recognition. In our design, the system is composed of units, which encompass a self-oscillating polymer gel that undergoes the Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) reaction and an overlaying piezoelectric (PZ) cantilever. Driven by the BZ oscillating chemical reaction, each gel periodically swells and shrinks in volume and thus rhythmically deflects the overlaying PZ cantilever. The periodic deflection of the PZ plate generates an oscillating electrical voltage, which is transmitted to other units through the electrical wires. As a result, the chemo-mechanical oscillation of one BZ gel affects the oscillations of all the other gels. Due to the interaction, the oscillations of the BZ-PZ units achieve in-phase or anti-phase synchronization with each other. These modes of synchronization can be used to represent binary information and enable the BZ-PZ oscillator network to store and to recognize patterns. Here, we show that introducing capacitors into the system allows us to increase the amount of information that can be stored in a given BZ-PZ network. The capacitors modify the system dynamics and create additional stable synchronization modes, which can be used for storing additional information. We then demonstrate how this extended information storage enhances the functionality of the BZ-PZ networks in performing computational tasks.

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