Sustained high-frequency dynamic instability of a nonlinear system of coupled oscillators forced by single or repeated impulses: Theoretical and experimental results

Kevin Remick, Alexander Vakakis, Lawrence Bergman, D. Michael McFarland, D. Dane Quinn, Themistoklis P. Sapsis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This report describes the impulsive dynamics of a system of two coupled oscillators with essential (nonlinearizable) stiffness nonlinearity. The system considered consists of a grounded weakly damped linear oscillator coupled to a lightweight weakly damped oscillating attachment with essential cubic stiffness nonlinearity arising purely from geometry and kinematics. It has been found that under specific impulse excitations the transient damped dynamics of this system tracks a high-frequency impulsive orbit manifold (IOM) in the frequency-energy plane. The IOM extends over finite frequency and energy ranges, consisting of a countable infinity of periodic orbits and an uncountable infinity of quasi-periodic orbits of the underlying Hamiltonian system and being initially at rest and subjected to an impulsive force on the linear oscillator. The damped nonresonant dynamics tracking the IOM then resembles continuous resonance scattering; in effect, quickly transitioning between multiple resonance captures over finite frequency and energy ranges. Dynamic instability arises at bifurcation points along this damped transition, causing bursts in the response of the nonlinear light oscillator, which resemble self-excited resonances. It is shown that for an appropriate parameter design the system remains in a state of sustained high-frequency dynamic instability under the action of repeated impulses. In turn, this sustained instability results in strong energy transfers from the directly excited oscillator to the lightweight nonlinear attachment; a feature that can be employed in energy harvesting applications. The theoretical predictions are confirmed by experimental results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number011013
JournalJournal of Vibration and Acoustics, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2014



  • Dynamical instability
  • Impulsive excitation
  • Strong nonlinearity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering

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