Taming Winfree Turbulence of Scroll Waves in Excitable Media

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Science  14 Mar 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5613, pp. 1722-1725
DOI: 10.1126/science.1080207

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Winfree turbulence of scroll waves is a special kind of spatiotemporal chaos that exists exclusively in three-dimensional excitable media and is currently considered one of the principal mechanisms of cardiac fibrillation. A chaotic wave pattern develops through the negative-tension instability of vortex filaments, which tend to spontaneously stretch, bend, loop, and produce an expanding tangle that fills up the volume. We demonstrate that such turbulence can readily be controlled by weak nonresonant modulation of the medium excitability. Depending on the forcing frequency, either suppression or induction of turbulence can be achieved.

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