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Homoclinic snaking near the surface instability of a polarizable fluid

Lloyd, D, Gollwitzer, C, Rehberg, I and Richter, R (2015) Homoclinic snaking near the surface instability of a polarizable fluid Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 783. pp. 283-305.

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We report on localized patches of cellular hexagons observed on the surface of a magnetic fluid in a vertical magnetic field. These patches are spontaneously generated by jumping into the neighborhood of the unstable branch of the domain covering hexagons of the Rosensweig instability upon which the patches equilibrate and stabilise. They are found to co-exist in intervals of the applied magnetic field strength parameter around this branch. We formulate a general energy functional for the system and a corresponding Hamiltonian that provides a pattern selection principle allowing us to compute Maxwell points (where the energy of a single hexagon cell lies in the same Hamiltonian level set as the flat state) for general magnetic permeabilities. Using umerical continuation techniques we investigate the existence of localized hexagons in the Young-Laplace equation coupled to the Maxwell equations. We find cellular hexagons possess a Maxwell point providing an energetic explanation for the multitude of measured hexagon patches. Furthermore,it is found that planar hexagon fronts and hexagon patches undergo homoclinic snaking corroborating the experimentally detected intervals. Besides making a contribution to the specific area of ferrofluids, our work paves the ground for a deeper understanding of homoclinic snaking of 2D localized patches of cellular patterns in many physical systems.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences > Mathematics
Authors :
Date : November 2015
Identification Number : 10.1017/jfm.2015.565
Additional Information : © 2015 Cambridge University Press This the author's version of an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. DOI:
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 27 Oct 2015 15:36
Last Modified : 27 Oct 2015 15:36

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