Heterogeneity-stabilized homogeneous states in driven media

Z.G. Nicolaou, D.J. Case, E.B. van der Wee, M.M. Driscoll, and A.E. Motter ,
Nature Communications 12, 4486 (2021).
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-24459-0
Understanding the relationship between symmetry breaking, system properties, and instabilities has been a problem of longstanding scientific interest. Symmetry-breaking instabilities underlie the formation of important patterns in driven systems, but there are many instances in which such instabilities are undesirable. Using parametric resonance as a model process, here we show that a range of states that would be destabilized by symmetry-breaking instabilities can be preserved and stabilized by the introduction of suitable system asymmetry. Because symmetric states are spatially homogeneous and asymmetric systems are spatially heterogeneous, we refer to this effect as heterogeneity-stabilized homogeneity. We illustrate this effect theoretically using driven pendulum array models and demonstrate it experimentally using Faraday wave instabilities. Our results have potential implications for the mitigation of instabilities in engineered systems and the emergence of homogeneous states in natural systems with inherent heterogeneities.

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