Solitary waves, steepening and initial collapse in the Maxwell-Lorentz system

Mads Peter Sørensen, Moysey Brio, Garry Webb, Jerome V. Moloney

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    We present a numerical study of Maxwell's equations in nonlinear dispersive optical media describing propagation of pulses in one Cartesian space dimension. Dispersion and nonlinearity are accounted for by a linear Lorentz model and an instantaneous Kerr nonlinearity, respectively. The dispersion relation reveals various asymptotic regimes such as Schrödinger and KdV branches. Existence of soliton-type solutions in the Schrödinger regime and light bullets containing few optical cycles together with dark solitons are illustrated numerically. Envelope collapse regimes of the Schrödinger equation are compared to the full system and an arrest mechanism is clearly identified when the spectral width of the initial pulse broadens beyond the applicability of the asymptotic behavior. We show that beyond a certain threshold the carrier wave steepens into an infinite gradient similarly to the canonical Majda–Rosales weakly dispersive system. The weak dispersion in general cannot prevent the wave breaking with instantaneous or delayed nonlinearities.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPhysica D: Nonlinear Phenomena
    Issue number3-4
    Pages (from-to)287-303
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


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