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Chimera States on a Ring of Strongly Coupled Relaxation Oscillators

Rode, Julian; Totz, Jan Frederik; Fengler, Enrico; Engel, Harald

FG Nichtlineare Dynamik & Strukturbildung

Weakly coupled oscillators can exhibit seemingly incongruous synchronization patterns comprised of coherent and incoherent spatial domains known as chimera states. However, the weak coupling approximation is invalid when the characteristic phase response curve of an oscillator does not scale linearly with the coupling strength and instead changes its shape. In chemical experiments with photo-coupled relaxation oscillators, we find that beyond weak coupling chimera patterns consist of different coexisting cluster states. Numerical modeling reveals that the observed cluster states result from a phase-dependent excitability that is also commonly observed in neural tissue and cardiac pacemaker cells.