Observation of a modulational instability in Bose-Einstein condensates

P. J. Everitt, M. A. Sooriyabandara, M. Guasoni, P. B. Wigley, C. H. Wei, G. D. McDonald, K. S. Hardman, P. Manju, J. D. Close, C. C.N. Kuhn, S. S. Szigeti, Y. S. Kivshar, N. P. Robins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


We observe the breakup dynamics of an elongated cloud of condensed Rb85 atoms placed in an optical waveguide. The number of localized spatial components observed in the breakup is compared with the number of solitons predicted by a plane-wave stability analysis of the nonpolynomial nonlinear Schrödinger equation, an effective one-dimensional approximation of the Gross-Pitaevskii equation for cigar-shaped condensates. It is shown that the numbers predicted from the fastest growing sidebands are consistent with the experimental data, suggesting that modulational instability is the key underlying physical mechanism driving the breakup.

Original languageEnglish
Article number041601
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalPhysical Review A
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


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