An important aspect of physics today is the effort to understand how the
fundamental laws of nature result in complex behavior, often referred to as
the study of emergent phenomena. For example, how does something as straightforward as a system of gas
molecules organize itself into something as complex as a tornado?Two factors play a key role in the study of emergent phenomena:
complexity, the number of constituents in a system, and nonlinearity, a
property common to most system dynamics.Nonlinear systems which can be controlled, easily measured and scaled
to large numbers are thus important to understand.
Networks of superconducting Josephson junctions are examples of such
systems. Josephson junctions are
inherently nonlinear systems which can be fabricated with adjustable
parameters, measured in a straightforward fashion, and easily scaled to
large network sizes. In addition, a
large circuit of Josephson junctions measured over a long time contains
dynamics which would be essentially impossible to calculate on a computer, but
which can be observed with basic electrical measurements.
In our research, we study the behavior of networks of Josephson junctions. We have followed previous work in this field in studying soliton-like
modes called fluxons or vortices and localized modes called discrete
breathers. We have also begun work
on synchronization in a system of disordered oscillators. Finally, we have devised a circuit of Josephson junctions to
accurately model the time-dependent behavior of the voltage of a neuron,
with an eye toward studying the emergent behavior of a large, coupled neural
Our work fits in with
Colgate University’s strong tradition of undergraduate student involvement
in academic research.