Hexagonal patterns in finite domains
Matthews, Paul (1998) Hexagonal patterns in finite domains. Physica D, 116 . pp. 81-94.
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.
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