Sustained strong fluctuations in a nonlinear chain at acoustic vacuum: Beyond equilibrium

Edgar Ávalos, Diankang Sun, Robert L. Doney, Surajit Sen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Here we consider dynamical problems as in linear response theory but for purely nonlinear systems where acoustic propagation is prohibited by the potential, e.g., the case of an alignment of elastic grains confined between walls. Our simulations suggest that in the absence of acoustic propagation, the system relaxes using only solitary waves and the eventual state does not resemble an equilibrium state. Further, the studies reveal that multiple perturbations could give rise to hot and cold spots in these systems. We first use particle dynamics based simulations to understand how one of the two unequal colliding solitary waves in the chain can gain energy. Specifically, we find that for head-on collisions the smaller wave gains energy, whereas when a more energetic wave overtakes a less energetic wave, the latter gains energy. The balance between the rate at which the solitary waves break down and the rate at which they grow eventually makes it possible for the system to reach a peculiar equilibriumlike phase that is characteristic of these purely nonlinear systems. The study of the features and the robustness of the fluctuations in time has been addressed next. A particular characteristic of this equilibriumlike or quasiequilibrium phase is that very large energy fluctuations are possible-and by very large, we mean that the energy can vary between zero and several times the average energy per grain. We argue that the magnitude of the fluctuations depend on the nature of the nonlinearity in the potential energy function and the feature that any energy must eventually travel as a compact solitary wave in these systems where the solitary wave energies may vary widely. In closing we address whether these fluctuations are peculiar to one dimension or can exist in higher dimensions. The study hence raises the following intriguing possibility. Are there physical or biological systems where these kinds of nonlinear forces exist, and if so, can such large fluctuations actually be seen? Implications of the study are briefly discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number046610
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Oct 21
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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