Solitons in optical fiber help model large oceanic 'rogue waves'

Sept. 29, 2014
Researchers from CNRS-Université de Franche-Comté (Besançon, France), University College Dublin, Belfield (Dublin, Ireland), the University of Auckland (Auckland, New Zealand), and Tampere University of Technology (Tampere, Finland) have presented an overview of the technique of using optical solitons and other nonlinear optical phenomena to model the appearance and behavior of rare but gigantic oceanic "rogue waves."

Researchers from CNRS-Université de Franche-Comté (Besançon, France), University College Dublin, Belfield (Dublin, Ireland), the University of Auckland (Auckland, New Zealand), and Tampere University of Technology (Tampere, Finland) have presented an overview of the technique of using optical solitons and other nonlinear optical phenomena to model the appearance and behavior of rare but gigantic oceanic "rogue waves."1

Rogue waves are unusually large waves that form at sea without warning but which can have great destructive power. These freak waves are considered threats to ships and have been suggested as the cause of a number of maritime disasters.

Rogue waves are of interest to optical physicists because laser light can behave very similarly to waves at sea. Under certain conditions, the mathematical models that describe light and ocean waves are the same. In these conditions optical instabilities can be interpreted as "optical rogue waves" that are comparable to their counterparts at sea.

Testing with scale models of ships
"Rogue waves are so rare that examining them at sea is next to impossible," says Miro Erkintalo of the University of Auckland's Department of Physics. "Luckily, we can study them using analogous optical laboratory experiments that are designed to mimic the behavior of ocean waves. Optical-fiber systems are particularly suitable for this purpose. This work is now being done to the extent where scale models of maritime vessels are being used to see how they cope with 'synthesized' rogue waves."

Although the term "optical rogue wave" was first used in reference to solitons and other nonlinear phenomena in optical fiber, it can apply to many other processes in optics as well. The researchers' review discusses the physical processes that create optical rogue waves, including nonlinear breather and soliton dynamics.

Source: https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/about/news-events-and-notices/news/news-2014/09/studies-in-laser-physics-help-understand-rogue-waves.html

REFERENCE:

1. Frédéric Dias et al., Nature Photonics (2014); doi: 10.1038/nphoton.2014.220

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