One-dimensional mass-spring chains supporting elasticwaves with non-conventional topology

Pierre Deymier, Keith Runge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


There are two classes of phononic structures that can support elastic waves with non-conventional topology, namely intrinsic and extrinsic systems. The non-conventional topology of elastic wave results from breaking time reversal symmetry (T-symmetry) of wave propagation. In extrinsic systems, energy is injected into the phononic structure to break T-symmetry. In intrinsic systems symmetry is broken through the medium microstructure that may lead to internal resonances. Mass-spring composite structures are introduced as metaphors for more complex phononic crystals with non-conventional topology. The elastic wave equation of motion of an intrinsic phononic structure composed of two coupled one-dimensional (1D) harmonic chains can be factored into a Dirac-like equation, leading to antisymmetric modes that have spinor character and therefore non-conventional topology in wave number space. The topology of the elastic waves can be further modified by subjecting phononic structures to externally-induced spatiotemporal modulation of their elastic properties. Such modulations can be actuated through photo-elastic effects, magneto-elastic effects, piezoelectric effects or external mechanical effects. We also uncover an analogy between a combined intrinsic-extrinsic systems composed of a simple one-dimensional harmonic chain coupled to a rigid substrate subjected to a spatiotemporal modulation of the side spring stiffness and the Dirac equation in the presence of an electromagnetic field. The modulation is shown to be able to tune the spinor part of the elastic wave function and therefore its topology. This analogy between classical mechanics and quantum phenomena offers new modalities for developing more complex functions of phononic crystals and acoustic metamaterials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number44
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 16 2016


  • Phononic structures
  • Time-reversal symmetry breaking
  • Topological elastic waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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