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Sci Rep. 2012;2:771. doi: 10.1038/srep00771. Epub 2012 Oct 25.

Spontaneous knotting of self-trapped waves.

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Nonlinear Physics Centre, Research School of Physics and Engineering, The Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia.


We describe theory and simulations of a spinning optical soliton whose propagation spontaneously excites knotted and linked optical vortices. The nonlinear phase of the self-trapped light beam breaks the wave front into a sequence of optical vortex loops around the soliton, which, through the soliton's orbital angular momentum and spatial twist, tangle on propagation to form links and knots. We anticipate similar spontaneous knot topology to be a universal feature of waves whose phase front is twisted and nonlinearly modulated, including superfluids and trapped matter waves.

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