The dispersion curves describe wave propagation in a structure, each branch representing a wave mode. As frequency varies the wavenumbers change and a number of dispersion phenomena may occur. This paper characterizes, analyzes, and quantifies these phenomena in general terms and illustrates them with examples. Two classes of phenomena occur. Weak coupling phenomena-veering and locking-arise when branches of the dispersion curves interact. These occur in the vicinity of the frequency at which, for undamped waveguides, the dispersion curves in the uncoupled waveguides would cross: if two dispersion curves (representing either propagating or evanescent waves) come close together as frequency increases then the curves either veer apart or lock together, forming a pair of attenuating oscillatory waves, which may later unlock into a pair of either propagating or evanescent waves. Which phenomenon occurs depends on the product of the gradients of the dispersion curves. The wave mode shapes which describe the deformation of the structure under the passage of a wave change rapidly around this critical frequency. These phenomena also occur in damped systems unless the levels of damping of the uncoupled waveguides are sufficiently different. Other phenomena can be attributed to strong coupling effects, where arbitrarily light stiffness or gyroscopic coupling changes the qualitative nature of the dispersion curves.
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