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Solitons in the presence of higher order dispersion


Uncovering new classes of solitary wave supported by engineered dispersion properties.


Dr Tristram Alexander.

Research location

School of Physics

Program type



The recent discovery of self-guided solitary waves, solitons, supported by the interplay of nonlinearity and higher-order dispersion [1] has led to an explosion of new directions for nonlinear wave research. The vast bulk of earlier work on soliton theory has focused on the effect of nonlinearity, but this serendipitous discovery of "pure quartic solitons" has focused attention on the role of the material linear properties on the soliton dynamics. However, understanding the implications of precisely controlled linear wave properties on nonlinear waves is still in its infancy, with so far only the simplest "bright soliton" solutions examined [2]. This theoretical project will uncover other classes of soliton that may exist due to the interplay of nonlinearity and the carefully engineered linear properties of a material. Early research in this direction indicates that self-localised waves with a complex internal structure may exist. These include the somewhat mysterious ‘dark soliton’ which contains a topological phase kink, through to much more complex phase profiles underpinning moving solitons. The properties of these solutions are currently unknown, and some look to be of forms never seen before. Significant new physics in this field appears to have been missed due to the focus on nonlinear rather than linear properties. This project will rectify this. 

[1] A. Blanco-Redondo et al., "Pure quartic solitons", Nat. Comm. 7, 10427 (2016). [2] K.K.K. Tam et al., "Stationary and dynamical properties of pure-quartic solitons", Opt. Lett. 44, 3306 (2019).

Additional information

This is a theoretical project located in the Institute for Photonics and Optical Science (IPOS) at the School of Physics. The findings of this project will inform experimental work carried out in IPOS, and a successful project applicant will have the opportunity to work closely with members of the theory and experimental teams in IPOS. 

HDR Inherent Requirements 
In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:   

  • Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;  
  • Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);  
  • Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;  
  • Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);  
  • Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;  
  • Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);  
  • Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;  
  • Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);  
  • Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;  
  • Hold a current scuba diving license;  
  • Hold a current Working with Children Check;  
  • Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)   

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2690

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