Pattern formation in the wake of triggered pushed fronts

Ryan Goh, Arnd Scheel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Pattern-forming fronts are often controlled by an external stimulus which progresses through a stable medium at a fixed speed, rendering it unstable in its wake. By controlling the speed of excitation, such stimuli, or 'triggers', can mediate pattern forming fronts which freely invade an unstable equilibrium and control which pattern is selected. In this work, we analytically and numerically study when the trigger perturbs an oscillatory pushed free front. In such a situation, the resulting patterned front, which we call a pushed trigger front, exhibits a variety of phenomenon, including snaking, non-monotonic wave-number selection, and hysteresis. Assuming the existence of a generic oscillatory pushed free front, we use heteroclinic bifurcation techniques to prove the existence of trigger fronts in an abstract setting motivated by the spatial dynamics approach. We then derive a leading order expansion for the selected wave-number in terms of the trigger speed. Furthermore, we show that such a bifurcation curve is governed by the difference of certain strong-stable and weakly-stable spatial eigenvalues associated with the decay of the free pushed front. We also study prototypical examples of these phenomena in the cubic-quintic complex Ginzburg Landau equation and a modified Cahn-Hilliard equation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2196-2237
Number of pages42
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jun 28 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research partially supported by the National Science Foundation through grants NSF- DMS-0806614 and NSF-DMS-1311740. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under grant NSFGFRP-00006595 and a UMN Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 IOP Publishing Ltd & London Mathematical Society.


  • Cahn-Hilliard equation
  • Ginzburg-Landau equation
  • Pushed fronts
  • heteroclinic bifurcation
  • pattern formation


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