Formerly considered a myth, the sudden formation of giant waves in a sea of low amplitude wavelets is nowadays an important subject of interdisciplinary research. These “rogue waves” (RW) are studied in different contexts, and their understanding is a challenge characterized by an intense discussion and a number of potential applications.
It is commonly accepted that the physics underlying the generation of giant oceanic RW is different from that of usual waves and that the triggering mechanism of RWs is not unique: linear effects (such as the focusing of independent wave trains) as well as the nonlinear amplification of noise may produce RWs.
In a paper published in Applied Physics Letters, Marco Leonetti and Claudio Conti use a spatial light modulator (SLM) to explore the possible speckle configurations generated by a random medium to generate and control a three-dimensional rogue wave.
They demonstrate that the SLM allows to select among all the possible realizations, the RW located at a user defined position in the shadow of the nearly totally reflecting obstacle. Moreover, by tuning the properties of the speckle pattern, the localization along the propagation axis can be controlled.
The picture below show the three-dimensional reconstruction of the observed rogue-wave.