The nonlinear Schrödinger equation and the propagation of weakly nonlinear waves in optical fibers and on the water surface

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


  • A. Chabchoub
  • B. Kibler
  • C. Finot
  • G. Millot
  • M. Onorato
  • J. M. Dudley
  • A. V. Babanin

Research units

  • Swinburne University of Technology
  • Universite de Bourgogne
  • Universit'a di Rome Sapienza
  • Universite de Franche-Comte


The dynamics of waves in weakly nonlinear dispersive media can be described by the nonlinear Schrödinger equation (NLSE). An important feature of the equation is that it can be derived in a number of different physical contexts; therefore, analogies between different fields, such as for example fiber optics, water waves, plasma waves and Bose-Einstein condensates, can be established. Here, we investigate the similarities between wave propagation in optical Kerr media and water waves. In particular, we discuss the modulation instability (MI) in both media. In analogy to the water wave problem, we derive for Kerr-media the Benjamin-Feir index, i.e. a nondimensional parameter related to the probability of formation of rogue waves in incoherent wave trains.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)490-500
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • Benjamin-Feir index, Electromagnetic waves, Nonlinear Schrödinger equation, Water waves

ID: 6981274