Experimental Nonlinear Physics Group
Experimental Nonlinear Physics at the University of Toronto




What is Nonlinear Physics?

Nonlinear physics is a catch-all term for the study of the dynamics of driven, open, non-equilibrium systems. Our group is mainly concerned with the phenomenon of pattern formation. When a nonlinear, dissipative system ( that is, one with friction ) is driven hard enough, it will often undergo a symmetry-breaking instability which takes it to a regular pattern state. The pattern is a dynamical state sustained by the driving forces which can have a high degree of periodic order and symmetry, even while it is producing and exporting entropy. Patterns are simple examples of emergent, self-organized structures which exist under non-equilibrium conditions. Surprisingly ordered nonequilibrium patterns are found in many different places in nature, including convection cells in fluids, spirals in oscillatory chemical reactions, ripples on blown sand, and in many biological and geological processes.

You can get more information on our experiments in the following areas:

Convection in
chemical waves

Electroconvection in
suspended smectic films

Faraday patterns
in surface waves

Crack patterns and
columnar joints

Chladni patterns
in vibrated plates

Fingering in
turbidity flows

Rayleigh-Bénard and
Bénard-Marangoni convection

Granular physics: segregation
and washboard road

The physics of
everyday life

Media links: our experiments in the news

The Experimental Nonlinear Physics Group, Dept. of Physics, University of Toronto,
60 St. George St. Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5S 1A7. Phone (416) 978 - 6810.