Optical turbulence: weak turbulence, condensates and collapsing filaments in the nonlinear Schrödinger equation

S. Dyachenko, A. C. Newell, A. Pushkarev, V. E. Zakharov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

383 Scopus citations


The nonlinear Schrödinger (NLS) equation iΨt + ∇2Ψ + α{curly logical or}Ψ{curly logical or}sΨ = 0 is a canonical and universal equation which is of major importance in continuum mechanics, plasma physics and optics. This paper argues that much of the observed solution behavior in the critical case sd = 4, where d is dimension and s is the order of nonlinearity, can be understood in terms of a combination of weak turbulence theory and condensate and collapse formation. The results are derived in the broad context of a class of Hamiltonian systems of which NLS is a member, so that the reader can gain a perspective on the ingredients important for the realization of the various equilibrium spectra, thermodynamic, pure Kolmogorov and combinations thereof. We also present time-dependent, self-similar solutions which describe the relaxation of the system towards these equilibrium states. We show that the number of particles lost in an individual collapse event is virtually independent of damping. Our numerical simulation of the full governing equations is the first to show the validity of the weak turbulence approximation. We also present a mechanism for intermittency which should have widespread application. It is caused by strongly nonlinear collapse events which are nucleated by a flow of particles towards the origin in wavenumber space. These highly organized events result in a cascade of particle number towards high wavenumbers and give rise to an intermittency and a behavior which violates many of the usual Kolmogorov assumptions about the loss of statistical information and the statistical independence of large and small scales. We discuss the relevance of these ideas to hydrodynamic turbulence in the conclusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-160
Number of pages65
JournalPhysica D: Nonlinear Phenomena
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 15 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Applied Mathematics


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