Turing patterns have served as a mathematical base throughout the years. Recently, they have been found to impact the pigmentation of tropical fish as well as the growth of bismuth crystals, and links the two of them together.
Humans are great at finding and recognizing patterns. There is something about patterns that makes us feel comfortable. It may be the repetition and its recognizable features that make us feel at home. Patterns can be from a broad range of shapes to numbers, to mathematical equations
One example of a specific pattern is called a Turing pattern. The pattern was recognized in 1952 by a famous mathematician named Alan Turing. The pattern is a solution to the equations that represent the diffusion and reactions of a few specific chemicals within a set of rules. However, Turing went on to show how this pattern occurs spontaneously in nature. They appear in spots, stripes, and most importantly the way that organisms take their shape, which is called morphogenesis.
The Turing pattern has typically been seen on a visible scale, and has not been applied to places invisible to the naked eye. However, this new discovery has seen the Turing pattern being applied on the scale of atoms.
In an article by the University of Electro-Communications, they explain how they were applied to the chemical makeup of bismuth. “Associate Professor Yuki Fuseya from the University of Electro-Communications, Japan, has recently found that the answer is a resounding yes! A specialist on bismuth (Bi) and its applications in condensed-matter physics, Dr. Fuseya never imagined working with Turing patterns, which are mostly studied in mathematical biology. However, on noticing some mysterious periodic stripes he had seen in Bi monoatomic layers, Dr. Fuseya got the wild idea they might actually be Turing patterns. And after three years of trial and error, he finally found success!”
And this discovery is not just interesting because we have seen the Turing pattern on a much smaller scale, it is also applicable to real life situations. “Based on our findings, we may remove undesirable patterns and make perfectly flat thin films, which are crucial for nanoelectronics. On the other hand, we could use Turing patterns as building blocks for new devices to study unexplored areas of physics.”
They also found that the pattern is able to repair itself, and is always pushing itself to be balanced in nature. “We found that Bi, an inorganic solid, is capable of wound healing just like living creatures. This property could lead to new techniques for producing nanoscale devices by combining diffusion and reaction phenomena,” says Dr. Fuseya.
The Turing pattern has returned in a way that changes the world. The new applications of it are soon to come.