Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking in a Split Potential Box

Phys Rev E. 2016 Aug;94(2-1):022211. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.94.022211. Epub 2016 Aug 12.


We report results of an analysis of the spontaneous symmetry breaking (SSB) in a basic (actually, simplest) model that is capable of producing the SSB phenomenology in a one-dimensional setting. It is based on the Gross-Pitaevskii-nonlinear Schrödinger equation with the cubic self-attractive term and a double-well potential built as an infinitely deep potential box split by a narrow (δ functional) barrier. The barrier's strength ɛ is the single free parameter of the scaled form of the model. It may be implemented in atomic Bose-Einstein condensates and nonlinear optics. The SSB bifurcation of the symmetric ground state (g.s.) is predicted analytically in two limit cases, viz., for deep or weak splitting of the potential box by the barrier (ɛ≫1 or ɛ≪1, respectively). For the generic case, a variational approximation (VA) is elaborated. The analytical findings are presented along with systematic numerical results. The stability of stationary states is studied through the calculation of eigenvalues for small perturbations and by means of direct simulations. The g.s. always undergoes the SSB bifurcation of the supercritical type, as predicted by the VA at moderate values of ɛ, although the VA fails at small ɛ, due to inapplicability of the underlying ansatz in that case. However, the latter case is correctly treated by the approximation based on a soliton ansatz. On top of the g.s., the first and second excited states are studied too. The antisymmetric mode (the first excited state) is destabilized at a critical value of its norm. The second excited state undergoes SSB bifurcation, like the g.s., but, unlike it, the bifurcation produces an unstable asymmetric mode. All unstable modes tend to spontaneously reshape into the asymmetric g.s.