Thin-Layer Solutions of the Helmholtz and Related Equations

J. R. Ockendon, R. H. Tew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This paper concerns a certain class of two-dimensional solutions to four generic partial differential equations-the Helmholtz, modified Helmholtz, and convection-diffusion equations, and the heat conduction equation in the frequency domain-and the connections between these equations for this particular class of solutions.S pecifically, we consider thin-layer solutions, valid in narrow regions across which there is rapid variation, in the singularly perturbed limit as the coefficient of the Laplacian tends to zero.F or the wellstudied Helmholtz equation, this is the high-frequency limit and the solutions in question underpin the conventional ray theory/WKB approach in that they provide descriptions valid in some of the regions where these classical techniques fail.E xamples are caustics, shadow boundaries, whispering gallery, and creeping waves and focusing and bouncing ball modes.It transpires that virtually all such thin-layer models reduce to a class of generalized parabolic wave equations, of which the heat conduction equation is a special case. Moreover, in most situations, we will find that the appropriate parabolic wave equation solutions can be derived as limits of exact solutions of the Helmholtz equation.W e also show how reasonably well-understood thin-layer phenomena associated with any one of the four generic equations may translate into less well-known effects associated with the others.In addition, our considerations also shed some light on the relationship between the methods of matched asymptotic, WKB, and multiple-scales expansions. © 2012 Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-51
Number of pages49
JournalSIAM Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUK–C1–013–04
Acknowledgements: This work was based on research supported in part byaward KUK–C1–013–04 from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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