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Nucleation of reaction-diffusion waves on curved surfaces

Kneer, Frederike; Schöll, Eckehard; Dahlem, Markus A.

FG Nichtlineare Dynamik und Kontrolle

We study reaction-diffusion waves on curved two-dimensional surfaces, and determine the influence of curvature upon the nucleation and propagation of spatially localized waves in an excitable medium modelled by the generic FitzHugh–Nagumo model. We show that the stability of propagating wave segments depends crucially on the curvature of the surface. As they propagate, they may shrink to the uniform steady state, or expand, depending on whether they are smaller or larger, respectively, than a critical nucleus. This critical nucleus for wave propagation is modified by the curvature acting like an effective space-dependent local spatial coupling, similar to diffuson, thus extending the regime of propagating excitation waves beyond the excitation threshold of flat surfaces. In particular, a negative gradient of Gaussian curvature $\Gamma $, as on the outside of a torus surface (positive $\Gamma $), when the wave segment symmetrically extends into the inside (negative $\Gamma $), allows for stable propagation of localized wave segments remaining unchanged in size and shape, or oscillating periodically in size.