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Hexagonal patterns in finite domains

Matthews, Paul

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Paul Matthews


In many mathematical models for pattern formation, a regular hexagonal pattern is stable in an infinite region. However, laboratory and numerical experiments are carried out in finite domains, and this imposes certain constraints on the possible patterns. In finite rectangular domains, it is shown that a regular hexagonal pattern cannot occur if the aspect ratio is rational. In practice, it is found experimentally that in a rectangular region, patterns of irregular hexagons are often observed. This work analyses the geometry and dynamics of irregular hexagonal patterns. These patterns occur in two different symmetry types, either with a reflection symmetry, involving two wavenumbers, or without symmetry, involving three different wavenumbers. The relevant amplitude equations are studied to investigate the detailed bifurcation structure in each case. It is shown that hexagonal patterns can bifurcate subcritically either from the trivial solution or from a pattern of rolls. Numerical simulations of a model partial differential equation are also presented to illustrate the behaviour.


Matthews, P. (1998). Hexagonal patterns in finite domains. Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena, 116,

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 1998
Deposit Date Nov 30, 2001
Publicly Available Date Oct 9, 2007
Journal Physica D
Print ISSN 0167-2789
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 116
Public URL


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