Wave Turbulence

Educational objectives

Wave turbulence is a statistical state that aims at describing the nonlinear random ensemble of waves as commonly observed at the surface of the ocean. A theoretical framework called "Weak Turbulence" exists since the 1960's to describe the weakly non linear case. Whether the Weak Turbulence Theory can describe a real system is still the object of investigation.


Here we will experiment on a physical model for wave turbulence: the vibrating elastic plate in which a state of wave turbulence is obtained by shaking a thin steel plate at low frequency. The occurence of wave turbulence can be simply noticed by the emitted sound that is reminiscent of thunder noise. The vibrating elastic plate is quite a simple (but rich) physical system so that a fully resolved (both in space and time) measurement can be implemented using a high speed profilometry technique.

Due to the 2D character of this study case, direct numerical simulations in ideal conditions are also easily accessible.


This lab-course is well suited to M1 and M2 students having a background in continuum mechanics (solid mechanics or fluid mechanics) with very basic knowledge in statistical Fourier analysis.

Module 1: Experimental investigations of the statistical properties of a vibrating plate

Observing the deformation using high speed imaging and analysing the statistical properties of wave turbulence

4 hrs lab course

Teacher: Nicolas Mordant

Module 2: Numerical simulation of the vibrating plate

Going further in the observations thanks to simulation

4 hrs lab course

Teacher: Nicolas Mordant


Nicolas Mordant



This lab-course is hosted in the laboratory LEGI located at 2011 rue de la piscine on the campus