Solitary waves in the granular chain

Surajit Sen, Jongbae Hong, Jonghun Bang, Edgar Avalos, Robert Doney

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

341 Citations (Scopus)


Solitary waves are lumps of energy. We consider the study of dynamical solitary waves, meaning cases where the energy lumps are moving, as opposed to topological solitary waves where the lumps may be static. Solitary waves have been studied in some form or the other for nearly 450 years. Subsequently, there have been many authoritative works on solitary waves. Nevertheless, some of the most recent studies reveal that these peculiar objects are far more complex than what we might have given them credit for. In this review, we introduce the physics of solitary waves in alignments of elastic beads, such as glass beads or stainless steel beads. We show that any impulse propagates as a new kind of highly interactive solitary wave through such an alignment and that the existence of these waves seems to present a need to re-examine the very definition of the concept of equilibrium. We further discuss the possibility of exploiting nonlinear properties of granular alignments to develop exciting technological applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-66
Number of pages46
JournalPhysics Reports
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jun
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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