The study of nonlinear oscillator chains in classical many-body dynamics has a storied history going back to the seminal work of Fermi et al. [Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory Report No. LA-1940, 1955 (unpublished)]. We introduce a family of such systems which consist of chains of N harmonically coupled particles with the nonlinearity introduced by confining the motion of each individual particle to a box or stadium with hard walls. The stadia are arranged on a one-dimensional lattice but they individually do not have to be one dimensional, thus permitting the introduction of chaos already at the lattice scale. For the most part we study the case where the motion is entirely one dimensional. We find that the system exhibits a mixed phase space for any finite value of N. Computations of Lyapunov spectra at randomly picked phase space locations and a direct comparison between Hamiltonian evolution and phase space averages indicate that the regular regions of phase space are not significant at large system sizes. While the continuum limit of our model is itself a singular limit of the integrable sinh Gordon theory, we do not see any evidence for the kind of nonergodicity famously seen in the work of Fermi et al. Finally, we examine the chain with particles confined to two-dimensional stadia where the individual stadium is already chaotic and find a much more chaotic phase space at small system sizes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
- Statistics and Probability
- Condensed Matter Physics