Branched flows of flexural waves in non-uniform elastic plates


Flexural elastic waves and sound in solids are of great interest in wide-ranging contexts such as ultrasound in plates, geophysics, ocean engineering, aerospace and automotive structures, and musical acoustics. Despite bending waves being the most important elastic waves for such surface structures, their propagation in the presence of the inevitable non-uniformity is poorly understood. Here we show the branching and focusing behaviour of highly dispersive flexural waves travelling in elastic plates of non-uniform thickness. The thickness profile has isotropically correlated spatial randomness. The correlation length is much larger than the wavelength. The location of wave focusing shows a scaling relationship with randomness, which is consistent with those previously reported in other random media. We show this analytically and numerically. This suggests a universality in the scaling between the location of wave focusing with randomness and the correlation length, regardless of the physics of the waves in question.

Communications Physics