This article shows how several phenomena in nonlinear dispersive systems can be described elegantly in terms of the so-called Akhmediev breathers, which are a simple analytic solution proposed by Akhmediev and Korneev 23 years ago to the nonlinear Schrödinger equation. The phenomena explained by this model are those due to modulation instability, which relates to the formation and evolution of periodic perturbations on a continuous wave background and its eventual transformation into a train of ultrashort pulses.
The authors also use this simple model to provide insight into the properties of the initial phase of continuous-wave supercontinuum generation seeded by noise-driven modulation instability. They convincingly validate the simple model against more rigorous numerical calculations and experiments.
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