The Independent Research in Science course assigns students to specialists in various domains to assist them with their research. This semester, some of students will share their progress, findings and overall thoughts regarding their projects in this bi-weekly column. The students will have a chance to display their final analyses in the Science Symposium at the end of April.
Patterns in Nature
with Mia Stankovic
Almost all structures in nature grow in their own complex architectural pattern, such as the complex growth patterns in coral reefs, or the tessellations found in honeycombs. These architectural patterns seem to be unlimited, and each have unique qualities.
This semester, I will be working in a Concordia University laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Louis Cuccia. In this lab, we will be exploring the reason why these structures are formed, and the chemical and physical conditions under which we will be able to control the growth of our own complex structures. To begin our research, we will be replicating an experiment done by Wim Noorduin and Alison Grinthal at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in order to familiarize ourselves with the chemical processes that we will be using.
The chemical reaction we will use yields crystalline structures that mirror some of the patterns found in nature. The structures we make in this chemical reaction heavily depend on the temperature, the concentration of carbon dioxide, and the acidity of the reaction. Our aim for this research is to figure out how we can alter these reaction conditions in order to control which structures are generated. In other words, we want to be able to manipulate the seemingly random structures that are formed in the chemical reaction.
If we can understand how these structures are formed in a laboratory setting, then it will help us understand more about patterns we see in nature, and perhaps lead to further breakthroughs in the biochemical field.