Research

# The first nontrivial curve in the fučĺk spectrum of the dirichlet laplacian on the ball consists of nonradial eigenvalues

Jiřĺ Benedikt1*, Pavel Drábek2 and Petr Girg1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Mathematics, Faculty of Applied Sciences, University of West Bohemia, Univerzitnĺ 22, 306 14 Plzeň, Czech Republic

2 Department of Mathematics and N.T.I.S., Faculty of Applied Sciences, University of West Bohemia, Univerzitnĺ 22, 306 14 Plzeň, Czech Republic

For all author emails, please log on.

Boundary Value Problems 2011, 2011:27  doi:10.1186/1687-2770-2011-27

 Received: 3 May 2011 Accepted: 4 October 2011 Published: 4 October 2011

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

### Abstract

It is well-known that the second eigenvalue λ2 of the Dirichlet Laplacian on the ball is not radial. Recently, Bartsch, Weth and Willem proved that the same conclusion holds true for the so-called nontrivial (sign changing) Fučík eigenvalues on the first curve of the Fučík spectrum which are close to the point (λ2, λ2). We show that the same conclusion is true in dimensions 2 and 3 without the last restriction.

##### Keywords:
Fučík spectrum; The first curve of the Fučík spectrum; Radial and nonradial eigenfunctions

### 1. Introduction

Let Ω ⊂ ℝN be a bounded domain, N ≥ 2. The Fučík spectrum of -Δ on is defined as a set Σ of those (λ+, λ-) ∈ ℝ2 such that the Dirichlet problem

(1)

has a nontrivial solution . In particular, if λ1 < λ2 < ⋯ are the eigenvalues of the Dirichlet Laplacian on Ω (counted with multiplicity), then clearly Σ contains each pair (λk, λk), k ∈ ℕ, and the two lines {λ1} × ℝ and ℝ × {λ1}. Following [1, p. 15], we call the elements of Σ \ ({λ1} × ℝ ∪ ℝ × {λ1}) nontrivial Fučík eigenvalues. It was proved in [2] that there exists a first curve of nontrivial Fučík eigenvalues in the sense that, defining η: (λ1, ∞) → ℝ by

we have that λ1 < η(λ) < ∞ for every λ (1), and the curve

consists of nontrivial Fučík eigenvalues. Moreover, it was proved in [2] that is a continuous and strictly decreasing curve which contains the point (λ2, λ2) and which is symmetric with respect to the diagonal.

It was conjectured in [1, p. 16], that if Ω is a radially symmetric bounded domain, then every eigenfunction u of (1) corresponding to some is not radial. The authors of [1, p. 16] actually proved that the conjecture is true if but sufficiently close to the diagonal.

The original purpose of this paper was to prove that the above conjecture holds true for all provided Ω is a ball in ℝN with N = 2 and N = 3. Without loss of generality, we prove it for the unit ball B centred at the origin. Cf. Theorem 6 below.

During the review of this paper, one of the reviewers drew the authors' attention to the paper [3], where the same result is proved for general N ≥ 2 (see [3, Theorem 3.2]). The proof in [3] uses the Morse index theory and covers also problems with weights on more general domains than balls. On the other hand, our proof is more elementary and geometrically instructive. From this point of view, our result represents a constructive alternative to the rather abstract approach presented in [3]. This is the main authors' contribution.

### 2. Variational characterization of

Let us fix s ∈ ℝ and let us draw in the (λ+, λ-) plane a line parallel to the diagonal and passing through the point (s, 0), see Figure 1.

Figure 1. The first two Fučík curves.

We show that the point of intersection of this line and corresponds to the critical value of some constrained functional (cf. [4, p. 214]). To this end we define the functional

Then is a C1-functional on and we look for the critical points of the restriction of to

By the Lagrange multipliers rule, is a critical point of if and only if there exists t ∈ ℝ such that

(2)

for all . This means that

holds in the weak sense. In particular, (λ+, λ-) = (s + t, t) ∈ Σ. Taking v = u in (2), one can see that the Lagrange multiplier t is equal to the corresponding critical value of .

From now on we assume s ≥ 0, which is no restriction since Σ is clearly symmetric with respect to the diagonal. The first eigenvalue λ1 of -Δ on is defined as

(3)

It is well known that λ1 > 0, simple and admits an eigenfunction with φ1 satisfying φ1(x) > 0 for x ∈ Ω. Let

and

(4)

We keep the same notation γ for the image of a function γ = γ (t). It follows from [4, Props. 2.2, 2.3 and Thms. 2.10, 3.1] that the first three critical levels of are classified as follows.

(i) φ1 is a strict global minimum of with . The corresponding point in Σ is (λ1, λ1 - s), which lies on the vertical line through (λ1, λ1).

(ii) -φ1 is a strict local minimum of , and . The corresponding point in Σ is (λ1 + s, λ1), which lies on the horizontal line through (λ1, λ1).

(iii) For each s ≥ 0, the point (s + c(s), c(s)), where c(s) > λ1 is defined by the minimax formula (4), belongs to Σ. Moreover, the point (s + c(s), c(s)) is the first nontrivial point of Σ on the parallel to the diagonal through (s, 0).

Next we summarize some properties of the dependence of the (principal) first eigenvalue λ1(Ω) on the domain Ω. The following proposition follows immediately from the variational characterization of λ1 given by (3) and the properties of the corresponding eigenfunction φ1.

Proposition 1. λ12) < λ11) whenever Ωi, i = 1, 2, are bounded domains satisfying Ω1 ⊆ Ω2 and meas(Ω1) < meas(Ω2).

Let us denote by Vd, d ∈ (0, 1), the ball canopy of the height 2d and by Bd the maximal inscribed ball in Vd (see Figure 2). It follows from Proposition 1 that for d ∈ (0, 1), we have

Figure 2. The ball decomposition

(5)

Moreover, from the variational characterization (3), the following properties of the function

(6)

Proposition 2. The function (6) is continuous and strictly decreasing on (0, 1), it maps (0, 1) onto (λ1(B), ∞) and , .

In particular, it follows from Proposition 2 that, given s ≥ 0, there exists a unique such that

(7)

Let and be positive principle eigenvalues associated with and , respectively. We extend both functions on the entire B by setting on , on and then normalize them by , . Our aim is to construct a special curve γ ∈ Γ on which the values of stay below . Actually, the curve γ connects φ1 with (1) and passes through and . For this purpose we set γ = γ1 γ2 γ3, where

Changing suitably the parametrization of γi, i = 1, 2, 3 (we skip the details for the brevity), γ can be viewed as a graph of a continuous function, mapping [-1, 1] into . We prove

Proposition 3. for all u γ.

For the proof we need so-called ray-strict convexity of the functional

(8)

defined on

We say that is ray-strictly convex if for all τ ∈ (0, 1) and v1, v2 V+ we have

where the equality holds if and only if v1 and v2 are colinear.

Lemma 4 (see [5, p. 132]). The functional defined by (8) is ray-strictly convex.

Proof of Proposition 3.

1. The values on γ1. For u γ1 we have

by Lemma 4 (with Ω := B), (3) and (7).

2. The values on γ2. Let u γ2, then there exist α ≥ 0, β ≥ 0, α2 + β2 = 1 and such that . Since the supports of and are mutually disjoint, we have

by (7).

3. The values on γ3. For u γ3 we have (similarly as in the first case)

From Proposition 3, (4) and (5) we immediately get

Proposition 5. Given s ≥ 0, we have

(9)

Radial Fučík spectrum has been studied in [6]. Let |x| be the Euclidean norm of x ∈ ℝN and u = u(|x|) be a radial solution of the problem

(10)

Set r = |x| and write v(r) = u(|x|). It follows from the regularity theory that (10) is equivalent to the singular problem

(11)

The authors of [6] provide a detailed characterization of the Fučík spectrum of (11) by means of the analysis of the linear equation associated to (11):

(12)

The function v is a solution of (12) if and only if is a solution of

(13)

Note that the functions v and have the same zeros.

Let us investigate the radial Fučík eigenvalues which lie on the line parallel to the diagonal and which passes through the point (s, 0) in the (λ+, λ- )-plane. The first two intersections coincide with the points (λ1, λ1 - s) and (λ1 + s, λ1). This fact follows from the radial symmetry of the principal eigenfunction of the Dirichlet Laplacian on the ball. A normalized radial eigenfunction associated with the next intersection has exactly two nodal domains and it is either positive or else negative at the origin. Let us denote the former eigenfunction by u1 and the latter one by u2, respectively. Let (λ1 + s, λ1) and (λ2 + s, λ2) be Fučík eigenvalues associated with u1 and u2, respectively. The property (iii) on page 5 implies that c(s) ≤ λi, i = 1, 2.

The main result of this paper states that the above inequalities are strict and it is formulated as follows.

Theorem 6. Let N = 2 or N = 3 and s ∈ ℝ be arbitrary. Then

In particular, nontrivial Fučík eigenvalues on the first curve of the Fučík spectrum are not radial.

Proof. Let ui(x) = vi(r), i = 1, 2, r = |x|. Then there exists d1 ∈ (0, 1) such that v1(r) is a solution of

and

After the substitution , is a solution of

(14)

and

(15)

Let u1 = u1(x) and u2 = u2(x) be the principal positive eigenfunctions associated with and , respectively. Both ui, i = 1, 2, are radially symmetric with respect to the centre of the corresponding ball. Due to the invariance of the Laplace operator with respect to translations we may assume that both and are centred at the origin. We then set ui(x) = wi(r), i = 1, 2, r = |x|. The functions wi, i = 1, 2, solve

and

After the substitution , i = 1, 2, we have

(16)

and

The substitution transforms (15) to

(17)

Let us assume that and that d1 > ds. Choose and set . Then solves

(18)

It follows that (18) is a Sturm majorant for (17) on the interval and on . Since and , , we have a contradiction with the Sturm Separation Theorem (see [7, Cor. 3.1, p. 335]). Hence d1 ds. Similar application of the Strum Separation Theorem to (14) and (16) now yields

(19)

Since we also have , it follows from (7) and (19) that

a contradiction which proves that .

Similarly as above, there exists d2 ∈ (0, 1) such that v2 is a solution of

and

After the substitution , is a solution of

(20)

and

(21)

Assume that and that 1- ds > d2. Similar arguments based on the Sturm Comparison Theorem yield first that 1- ds d2 (i.e., 1 - d2 ds), and then (16), (21) that

As above we obtain

a contradiction which proves that .

The assertion now follows from Proposition 5. ■

Remark 7. Careful investigation of the above proof indicates that (N - 1)(3 - N) ≤ 0 is needed to make the comparison arguments work. The proof is simpler for N = 3 when the transformed equations for and are autonomous. The application of the Sturm Comparison Theorem is then more straightforward.

### 4. Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

### 5. Authors' contribution

All authors contributed to each part of this work equally.

### 6. Acknowledgments

Jiří Benedikt and Petr Girg were supported by the Project KONTAKT, ME 10093, Pavel Drábek was supported by the Project KONTAKT, ME 09109.

### References

1. Bartsch, T, Weth, T, Willem, M: Partial symmetry of least energy nodal solutions to some variational problems. J. D'Analyse Mathématique. 96, 1–18 (2005). PubMed Abstract | PubMed Central Full Text

2. de Figueiredo, D, Gossez, J-P: On the first curve of the Fučík spectrum of an elliptic operator. Differ. Integral Equ. 7, 1285–1302 (1994)

3. Bartsch, T, Degiovanni, M: Nodal solutions of nonlinear elliptic Dirichlet problems on radial domains. Rend. Licei Mat. Appl. 17, 69–85 (2006)

4. Cuesta, M, de Figueiredo, D, Gossez, J-P: The beginning of the Fučík spectrum for the p-Laplacian. J. Differ. Equ. 159, 212–238 (1999). Publisher Full Text

5. Takáč, P: Degenerate elliptic equations in ordered Banach spaces and applications. In: Drábek P, Krejčí P, Takáč P (eds.) Nonlinear Differential Equations. Chapman and Hall/CRC Res. Notes Math, vol. 404, pp. 111–196. CRC Press LLC, Boca Raton (1999)

6. Arias, M, Campos, J: Radial Fučik spectrum of the Laplace operator. J. Math. Anal. Appl. 190, 654–666 (1995). Publisher Full Text

7. Hartman, P: Ordinary Differential Equations. Wiley, New York (1964)