In living systems, there are many autonomous and oscillatory phenomena to sustain life such as heart beating. We developed “self-oscillating” polymer gels that undergo spontaneous cyclic swelling–deswelling changes without any on–off switching of external stimuli, as with heart muscle.The self-oscillating gels were designed by utilizing the Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) reaction, an oscillating reaction, as a chemical model of the TCA cycle. We have systematically studied these self-oscillating polymer gels since they were first reported in 1996.  Potential applications of the self-oscillating polymers and gels include several kinds of functional material systems such as biomimetic actuators, mass transport systems and functional fluids.  In this review, our recent progress on the self-oscillating polymer gels is summarized.

Graphical Abstract

Self-oscillating polymer gels as biomimetic and smart softmaterials