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n. (context physics mathematics English) a self-reinforcing travelling wave or pulse caused by any non-linear effect; found in many physical systems


n. (physics) a quantum of energy or quasiparticle that can be propagated as a traveling wave in nonlinear systems and is neither preceded nor followed by another such disturbance; does not obey the superposition principle and does not dissipate; "soliton waves can travel long distances with little loss of energy or structure" [syn: soliton wave, solitary wave]


In mathematics and physics, a soliton is a self-reinforcing solitary wave, that maintains its shape while it propagates at a constant velocity. Solitons are caused by a cancellation of nonlinear and dispersive effects in the medium. (The term "dispersive effects" refers to a property of certain systems where the speed of the waves varies according to frequency). Solitons are the solutions of a widespread class of weakly nonlinear dispersive partial differential equations describing physical systems.

The soliton phenomenon was first described in 1834 by John Scott Russell (1808–1882) who observed a solitary wave in the Union Canal in Scotland. He reproduced the phenomenon in a wave tank and named it the " Wave of Translation".

Soliton (optics)

In optics, the term soliton is used to refer to any optical field that does not change during propagation because of a delicate balance between nonlinear and linear effects in the medium. There are two main kinds of solitons:

  • spatial solitons: the nonlinear effect can balance the diffraction. The electromagnetic field can change the refractive index of the medium while propagating, thus creating a structure similar to a graded-index fiber. If the field is also a propagating mode of the guide it has created, then it will remain confined and it will propagate without changing its shape
  • temporal solitons: if the electromagnetic field is already spatially confined, it is possible to send pulses that will not change their shape because the nonlinear effects will balance the dispersion. Those solitons were discovered first and they are often simply referred as "solitons" in optics.
Soliton (disambiguation)

A soliton is a type of self-reinforcing solitary wave.

Soliton may also refer to:

  • Soliton (optics), an optical field that does not change during propagation because of a balance between nonlinear and linear effects
  • Soliton (topology), a solution of a system of partial differential equations or of a quantum field theory homotopically distinct from the vacuum solution
  • Soliton distribution, a type of discrete probability distribution that arises in the theory of erasure correcting codes
  • Soliton Incorporated, company
  • Soliton model, neurological model

Usage examples of "soliton".

Somehow the weapon created a soliton -- a standing-wave -- in the geodesic structure of spacetime.

Tidal forces had created a great soliton, a solitary wave over a kilometer high that was sweeping around the whole girth of Opal.

In a soliton wave of water moving through a canal, the forward motion of the wave and it's height, is supported by the inward pressure from the walls of the canal, meaning that the forward loss of energy caused by the forward motion of the wave is compensated fully by the inward pressures of the wave's energy against the walls of the canal boundary, which in turn boosts the forward energy to the point where it is .