Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Kenneth Showalter

Committee Co-Chair

Martin Ferer

Committee Member

Terry Gullion

Committee Member

Charles Jaffe

Committee Member

Justin Legleiter.


Neural networks are a class of biological networks of great importance. They are a key component of the central nervous system that coordinates body functions. The exploration of the detailed mechanism of biological neural networks remains extremely active. Inspired by the structure of biological neural networks, artificial neural networks have been designed to solve a variety of problems in pattern recognition, prediction, optimization and control. However, few studies have been reported that explore the dynamics of biological neural networks using chemical systems. As part of this thesis, an experimentally trainable network based on the photosensitive Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction is developed, where the individual node is a catalyst loaded micro-particle. The interactions between nodes in the network are created by arranging links with different weights, similar to the excitable and inhibitory synapses in biological neural networks. The distribution of the weights of the excitable links has been studied. The results indicate that a stable distribution of the weights is exhibited.;Synchronization in coupled nonlinear oscillators is a remarkable and ubiquitous phenomenon in nature. Application of periodic global feedback to oscillators allows the creation of new kinds of wave patterns with the coexistence of stable phase states. In experiments with the photosensitive BZ reaction, periodic global feedback is implemented by varying the illumination intensity. In a 1:1 frequency-locked entrainment, 2pi phase fronts called phase kinks have been observed in the photosensitive BZ reaction. Generally, a phase kink represents the existence of stable phase differences, propagating as an analog of traveling waves in 2D excitable media. By modifying the conditions of local forcing, the experiments show that a phase kink can be trapped to form a closed pattern.;Self-propulsion is an essential feature of many living systems. There are numerous realizations of self-propelled particles in biological systems, such as the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes in cells. Such biological phenomena inspire the creation of artificial self-propelled particles. Recently, nonbiological micro- to nanoscale particles, that convert chemical energy into translational motion, have been investigated. Studies show that Pt-coated polystyrene particles, coated on one hemisphere with Pt, exhibit self-propulsion in dilute H2O2 solutions. Here, we experimentally study the dynamical behavior of silica particles that are asymmetrically coated with Pt in H2O2 solutions, similar to Pt-coated polystyrene particles. The focus of our study is on the particle orientation with respect to the direction of motion. This is investigated using velocity autocorrelation and propulsion direction analyses.