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Journal Article

Critical fluctuations and slowing down of chaos


Das,  Moupriya
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Max Planck Society;

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Das, M., & Green, J. R. (2019). Critical fluctuations and slowing down of chaos. Nature Communications, 10: 2155. doi:10.1038/s41467-019-10040-3.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-D942-E
Fluids cooled to the liquid-vapor critical point develop system-spanning fluctuations in density that transform their visual appearance. Despite a rich phenomenology, however, there is not currently an explanation of the mechanical instability in the molecular motion at this critical point. Here, we couple techniques from nonlinear dynamics and statistical physics to analyze the emergence of this singular state. Numerical simulations and analytical models show how the ordering mechanisms of critical dynamics are measurable through the hierarchy of spatiotemporal Lyapunov vectors. A subset of unstable vectors soften near the critical point, with a marked suppression in their characteristic exponents that reflects a weakened sensitivity to initial conditions. Finite-time fluctuations in these exponents exhibit sharply peaked dynamical timescales and power law signatures of the critical dynamics. Collectively, these results are symptomatic of a critical slowing down of chaos that sits at the root of our statistical understanding of the liquid-vapor critical point.