Jan Chaloupka

Type of Resources


Date Created



A pilot-wave hydrodynamic system consists of a small droplet of viscous fluid that is propelled across a vibrating bath of the same fluid. Bouncing vertical motion and "walking" horizontal motion of the droplet can be achieved with careful control over the frequency and amplitude of the bath's oscillation. The droplet avoids merging with the fluid from which it was generated and exhibits intricate motion across the fluid surface. Of particular importance, the observed walking motion is due to the droplet's interaction with the waves it generates as it bounces off of the vibrating liquid surface. With each rebound, it receives transverse kicks in its motion dependent on the waves generated by its previous bounces. Ultimately, it is the droplet's interaction with the superposition of these waves that produce the complex motion observed. With variations in bath geometries and subsurface structures, the droplet's trajectory can be manipulated to induce fascinating behavior. Over short timescales, a droplet will exhibit seemingly random trajectories. However, when the droplet is observed over long timescales, patterns in the cumulative motion of the droplet begin to emerge. The patterns this system maps out over long timescales represent a compelling macroscopic analog to Louis de Broglie's double-solution theory of quantum mechanics. In order to analyze this behavior, a novel imaging scheme and data acquisition system has been developed, enabling observations of droplet behavior over various timescales simultaneously. An exploration into the development of a pilot-wave hydrodynamic system, and the pilot-wave hydrodynamic experiments conducted thereafter, is presented.

Degree Name