In this article, a general geometric singular perturbation framework is developed to study the impact of strong, spatially localized, nonlinear impurities on the existence, stability and bifurcations of localized structures in systems of linear reaction–diffusion equations. By taking advantage of the multiple-scale nature of the problem, we derive algebraic conditions determining the existence and stability of pinned single- and multi-pulse solutions. Our methods enable us to explicitly control the spectrum associated with a (multi-)pulse solution. In the scalar case, we show how eigenvalues may move in and out of the essential spectrum and that Hopf bifurcations cannot occur. By contrast, even a pinned 1-pulse solution can undergo a Hopf bifurcation in a two-component system of linear reaction–diffusion equations with (only) one impurity.
This article is part of the theme issue ‘Stability of nonlinear waves and patterns and related topics’.

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