Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




John Delas


We present a study of trajectories in a two-dimensional, open, vase-shaped cavity in the absence of forces The classical trajectories freely propagate between elastic collisions. Bound trajectories, regular scattering trajectories, and chaotic scattering trajectories are present in the vase. Most importantly, we find that classical trajectories passing through the vase's mouth escape without return. In our simulations, we propagate bursts of trajectories from point sources located along the vase walls. We record the time for escaping trajectories to pass through the vase's neck. Constructing a plot of escape time versus the initial launch angle for the chaotic trajectories reveals a vastly complicated recursive structure or a fractal. This fractal structure can be understood by a suitable coordinate transform. Reducing the dynamics to two dimensions reveals that the chaotic dynamics are organized by a homoclinic tangle, which is formed by the union of infinitely long, intersecting stable and unstable manifolds.;This study is broken down into three major components. We first present a topological theory that extracts the essential topological information from a finite subset of the tangle and encodes this information in a set of symbolic dynamical equations. These equations can be used to predict a topologically forced minimal subset of the recursive structure seen in numerically computed escape time plots. We present three applications of the theory and compare these predictions to our simulations. The second component is a presentation of an experiment in which the vase was constructed from Teflon walls using an ultrasound transducer as a point source. We compare the escaping signal to a classical simulation and find agreement between the two. Finally, we present an approximate solution to the time independent Schrodinger Equation for escaping waves. We choose a set of points at which to evaluate the wave function and interpolate trajectories connecting the source point to each "detector point". We then construct the wave function directly from these classical trajectories using the two-dimensional WKB approximation. The wave function is Fourier Transformed using a Fast Fourier Transform algorithm resulting in a spectrum in which each peak corresponds to an interpolated trajectory. Our predictions are based on an imagined experiment that uses microwave propagation within an electromagnetic waveguide. Such an experiment exploits the fact that under suitable conditions both Maxwell's Equations and the Schrodinger Equation can be reduced to the Helmholtz Equation. Therefore, our predictions, while compared to the electromagnetic experiment, contain information about the quantum system. Identifying peaks in the transmission spectrum with chaotic trajectories will allow for an additional experimental verification of the intermediate recursive structure. Finally, we summarize our results and discuss possible extensions of this project.



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