Free-Energy Transition in a Gas of Noninteracting Nonlinear Wave Particles

, , , and . Physical Review Letters 101 (4): 044101 (2008)


We investigate the dynamics of a gas of noninteracting particlelike soliton waves, demonstrating that phase transitions originate from their collective behavior. This is predicted by solving exactly the nonlinear equations and by employing methods of the statistical mechanics of chaos. In particular, we show that a suitable free energy undergoes a metamorphosis as the input excitation is increased, thereby developing a first-order phase transition whose measurable manifestation is the formation of shock waves. This demonstrates that even the simplest phase-space dynamics, involving independent (uncoupled) degrees of freedom, can sustain critical phenomena.

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