An analytical theory is proposed for the kinetic electrostatic electron nonlinear (KEEN) waves originally found in simulations by Afeyan et al. [arXiv:1210.8105]. We suggest that KEEN waves represent saturated states of the negative mass instability (NMI) reported recently by Dodin et al. [Phys. Rev. Lett. 110, 215006 (2013)]. Due to the NMI, trapped electrons form macroparticles that produce field oscillations at harmonics of the bounce frequency. At large enough amplitudes, these harmonics can phase-lock to the main wave and form stable nonlinear dissipationless structures that are nonstationary but otherwise similar to Bernstein-Greene-Kruskal modes. The theory explains why the formation of KEEN modes is sensitive to the excitation scenario and yields estimates that agree with the numerical results of Afeyan et al. A new type of KEEN wave may be possible at even larger amplitudes of the driving field than those used in simulations so far.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Condensed Matter Physics