Formation of matter-wave soliton trains by modulational instability
Nonlinear systems can exhibit a rich set of dynamics that are inherently sensitive to their initial conditions. One such example is modulational instability, which is believed to be one of the most prevalent instabilities in nature. By exploiting a shallow zero-crossing of a Feshbach resonance, we characterize modulational instability and its role in the formation of matter-wave soliton trains from a Bose-Einstein condensate. We examine the universal scaling laws exhibited by the system and, through real-time imaging, address a long-standing question of whether the solitons in trains are created with effectively repulsive nearest-neighbor interactions or rather evolve into such a structure.