School Seminar Program

Rogue waves and their applications to oceans & fibres

Adrian Ankiewicz

Dr Adrian Ankiewicz
Optical Sciences Group, Theoretical Physics

For centuries, there were legends about enormous rogue waves damaging or sinking ships in the ocean, but it was only in the mid-1990s that an actual rogue wave was scientifically measured for the first time.

The nonlinear Schrodinger equation is a generic nonlinear equation which governs many nonlinear phenomena, including propagation of light pulses in glass optical fibres, some ocean waves and some plasma effects. We can envisage that solutions of this equation can be realized in various areas of physics.  This has especially turned out to be the case for the so-called ‘rogue wave’ solutions.  This and other equations related to it describe the evolution of a small ripple on a background into a large central wave where the energy is concentrated.  It is this ‘nonlinear focussing’ that can produce high amplitude ocean waves capable of sinking ships, but also can allow the generation of bright short pulses of light which have biomedical and other applications. Rogue waves of various orders are possible – each has a distinct signature shape.

A discrete array of fibres or electrical components can also support rogue waves of various orders.

The talk will explain these fascinating phenomena in a simple way.

Since the 1970s, Adrian Ankiewicz has worked on mathematical and applied aspects of graded index fibres, guided waves, nonlinear optics, solitons, planar waveguide design, dissipative solitons and rogue waves.

Refreshments will be held in the Tea Room after the Seminar (around 5pm)


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