Superregular breathers in optics and hydrodynamics: Omnipresent modulation instability beyond simple periodicity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


  • B. Kibler
  • A. Chabchoub
  • A. Gelash
  • N. Akhmediev
  • V. E. Zakharov

Research units

  • Universite de Bourgogne
  • University of Tokyo
  • Novosibirsk State University
  • Australian National University
  • University of Arizona


Since the 1960s, the Benjamin-Feir (or modulation) instability (MI) has been considered as the selfmodulation of the continuous "envelope waves" with respect to small periodic perturbations that precedes the emergence of highly localized wave structures. Nowadays, the universal nature of MI is established through numerous observations in physics. However, even now, 50 years later, more practical but complex forms of this old physical phenomenon at the frontier of nonlinear wave theory have still not been revealed (i.e., when perturbations beyond simple harmonic are involved). Here, we report the evidence of the broadest class of creation and annihilation dynamics of MI, also called superregular breathers. Observations are done in two different branches of wave physics, namely, in optics and hydrodynamics. Based on the common framework of the nonlinear Schrödinger equation, this multidisciplinary approach proves universality and reversibility of nonlinear wave formations from localized perturbations for drastically different spatial and temporal scales.


Original languageEnglish
Article number041026
JournalPhysical Review X
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

ID: 6981233