Research Highlights

Hypervelocity Impact

A recent research interest for Professor Rosakis is Hypervelocity Impact. Hypervelocity impact is a rising concern in spacecraft missions where man-made debris in low Earth orbit (LEO) and meteoroids are capable of compromising or depleting the structural integrity of spacecraft. To address these concerns, the goal of current research is to experimentally investigate the underlying mechanisms responsible for deformation and damage evolution during hypervelocity impact utilizing Caltech/JPL's Small Particle Hypervelocity Impact Range (SPHIR) facility. By combining high speed photography, optical techniques, including Coherent Gradient Sensing (CGS) interferometry, the dynamic perforation behavior involving crater morphology, debris and ejecta formation and solid/fluid/plasma transitions and interactions have been examined.

Rosakis

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Research Area: Physics of Solids and Mechanics of Materials | Faculty: Rosakis

Jellyfish-inspired Design

We are interested in animal-fluid interactions that could inspire innovative designs for devices operating in air or water. The jellyfish represents an ideal model system for studying unsteady fluid transport in a flexible system at various scales. We are particularly interested in quantifying scaling effects, elucidating the relation between geometry and fluid transport, and dissecting the functional components of the flow field such as feeding currents and propulsive currents. Applications include the design of propulsion systems, and translation to the medical research for new perspectives on fluid transport in organs and vascular systems.

Dabiri

Geometry and efficient fluid propulsion in jellyfish. The left image illustrates shape variation in juvenile jellyfish of the same species (ca. 5mm in diameter). Here, the two animals have been exposed to different fluid regimes during development, resulting in geometric adaptations that facilitate efficient fluid propulsion in each condition, respectively. The image on the right shows synthetic probes designed to systematically test the effect of geometric parameters on jellyfish-fluid interactions , such as drag and boundary layer formation.

Research Area: Biomechanics | Faculty: Dabiri

Lagrangian and Vorticity-field Geometry of Turbulent Flows

The aims of this project are to develop a quantitative framework for investigating and characterizing the geometry of "eddies" in turbulent flows. This is done by the numerical simulation of turbulent fluid flows from which both Eulerian (time instantaneous) and Lagrangian (time evolving) three-dimensional fields can be extracted. Quantitative tools such as the curvelet transform can then be applied to extracted fields to produce a multi-scale decomposition from which the statistical geometry of turbulent eddy structure over various length scales can be studied. The results of the research can provide support for structure-based models of turbulent flows.

Pullin

Image of vortex iso-surfaces in a viscous flow starting from Taylor-Green initial conditions. The vorticity vector is everywhere tangent to these iso-surfaces which are extracted from a continuous vortex-surface field. Some sample vortex lines are shown. The vortex surfaces, colored by vorticity intensity (yellow highest), depict a tangle of vorticity tubes and vorticity sheets.

Research Area: Physics of Fluids, Computational & Theoretical Mechanics | Faculty: Pullin

Materials by Design

We focus on the design, assembly and testing of new materials with unique mechanical properties. Building from fundamental components (e.g. granular particles with different geometries) we assemble ordered and disordered structures with controllable responses. We exploit the nonlinearity and geometry of the selected building blocks to obtain materials with a tunable dynamic behavior. Applications include the use of these materials in shock protecting systems, vibration absorption, acoustic wave focusing and stress redirection.

Daraio

Granular crystals. These particle assemblies are designed to tailor the stress propagation and the redirection of impulses. The wave speed in these materials is a function of the signal amplitude. The particles’ packing geometry determines the shape of the propagating wave front.

Daraio

3D Printing and rapid prototyping. The left image represent a 3D drawing corresponding to a soft polymer matrix with curved hollow lodging for particles. The image on the right represents a 3D printed sample (a soft rubber) with spherical particles included in the lodging.

Research Area: Physics of Solids and Mechanics of Materials | Faculty: Daraio

Modeling of Wall Turbulence

A broad range of experimental and theoretical research efforts seek to exploit the directional amplification associated with the Navier-Stokes equations to illuminate the dominant mechanisms behind observed flow physics in wall turbulence. A particular topic of interest is the exploitation of flow receptivity to stochastic or optimized small disturbances to reconcile the statistical and structural pictures of wall turbulence and expand current modeling capabilities.

McKeon

The modeling framework of McKeon & Sharma (J. Fluid Mech., 2010) can be used to predict hairpin vortex structure in turbulent pipe flow identified by isocontours of swirl, the imaginary part of the complex eigenvalues of the velocity gradient.

McKeon

The shape of the streamwise velocity mode associated with near-wall turbulence activity: prediction from the model of McKeon & Sharma (J. Fluid Mech., 2010). Red and blue isocontours represent positive and negative velocity fluctuations relative to the mean velocity.

Research Area: Physics of Fluids, Computational & Theoretical Mechanics | Faculty: McKeon

Laboratory Earthquakes

In the late eighties, Rosakis introduced the concept of "Laboratory Earthquakes" and since then his research interests have mainly focused on the mechanics of seismology, the physics of dynamic shear rupture and frictional sliding and on laboratory seismology. The goal of this body of work is to create, in a controlled and repeatable environment, surrogate laboratory earthquake scenarios mimicking various dynamic shear rupture process occurring in natural earthquake events. Such, highly instrumented, experiments are used to observe new physical phenomena and to also create benchmark comparisons with existing analysis and field observations. The experiments use high-speed photography, full-field photoelasticity, and laser velocimetry as diagnostics. The fault systems are simulated using two photoelastic plates held together in frictional contact. The far field tectonic loading is simulated by pre-compression while the triggering of dynamic rupture (spontaneous nucleation) is achieved by suddenly dropping the normal stress in a small region along the interface. The frictional interface (fault) forms various angles with the compression axis to provide the shear driving force necessary for continued rupturing. Rosakis and his co-workers, investigate the characteristics of rupture, such as rupture speed, rupture mode, associated ground motion under various conditions such as tectonic load, interface complexity and roughness. Both homogeneous and bimaterial interfaces (abutted by various elastic and damaged media) are investigated. Rosakis and his coworkers have been credited with the experimental discovery of the "intersonic" or "supershear rupture" phenomenon. Indeed they have investigated this new phenomenon in various engineering and geophysical settings involving shear dominated rupture in the presence of weak interfaces or faults. Their experimental discoveries of supershear rupture has refocused the attention of the geophysics community to the study of supershear earthquakes.

Laboratory Earthquakes

The fastest super-shear cracks on Earth: Bimaterial delamination; shear rupture of a graphite composite; and rupture of a frictional interface simulating a laboratory earthquake.

Rosakis

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Research Area: Physics of Solids and Mechanics of Materials | Faculty: Rosakis

Eulerian Approach to High Strain-rate Solid Mechanics

The calculation of strong waves in condensed media remains a challenge. The prevasiling approach use a Lagrangian formulation which follows material particles. We are examine the use of Eulerian approaches where the mesh is fixed and the material flows through the mesh. Our approach is based on m odern shock capturing techniques that have been very successfully used for gas dynamics but that have not received much attention for solid materials. The benefit of an Eulerian approach is better resolution of vortical type flows which mix multiple materials as well as the ability to experiment with subgrid scale methods to resolve complex phenomena that cannot be captured at the smallest length scale available to the computation. We are also interested in the proper modeling of dissipation for solid (as well as fluid) materials as it is known that current approaches which use numerical dissipation can sometimes create artificial physical response in the materials under study. We also make use of computational techniques such as adaptive mesh refinement and parallel computation to resolve to the fullest extent possible the relevant phenomena.

Daraio

Mach reflection of a strong shock wave propagating in Aluminum against a rigid inclined ramp. Wave propagation in shocked solids is more complex than in fluids. In particular, an incoming shock wave can bifurcate into an elastic prescusor and a trailing wave associated with plastic work. Shown on the left of the figure are the contours of density indicating the compression of the material. The two shock waves (elastic and plastic) are clearly seen in addition to the reflected waves which must appear when a shock interacts with an oblique boundary (known as Mach reflection). The right figure shows the stress deviator contours which indicate the material strength response of the solid material. These calculations are performed using a new fully Eulerian formulation of solid mechanics which is able to deal with strong shocks and the complex waves that arise as a result of shock boundary interactions. Joint work of Dale Pullin and Dan Meiron.

Research Area: Physics of Solids and Mechanics of Materials, Computational & Theoretical Mechanics | Faculty: Pullin, Meiron

Shock wave—Boundary Layer Interaction for Reflected Detonations

Bifurcation of reflected shock waves is often discussed as it pertains to shock tube performance. The related problem of detonation reflection is currently being studied in the Explosion Dynamics Laboratory under Prof. Joseph Shepherd. Shown are two schlieren images in very similar mixtures at identical initial pressure. The detonation case (left) is 90% nitrous oxide with 10% hydrogen to give detonation whereas the shockwave case (right) is 100% nitrous oxide. In both cases the Mach number of the reflected wave is 1.6, but the reflected shock wave has stronger interaction with the boundary layer than the reflected detonation wave. Preliminary results suggest this is due to the importance of the thermal boundary layer behind the detonation.

Damazo

The fluid dynamics of detonation reflection (left) are drastically different from shock wave reflection (right) for similar initial mixtures and reflected mach numbers.

Research Area: Physics of Fluids | Faculty: Shepherd

Quantitative Full-scale Wind Turbine Flow Measurements

To analyze aerodynamic interactions between vertical-axis wind turbines in detail, it is essential to be able to observe their flow fields. Quantitative in situ measurements pose a challenge because of the large spatial dimensions, high flow velocities and the remote locations of the VAWTs. This project implements Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) in horizontal cross-sections of the VAWTs as well as in the regions between neighboring turbines in the wind farm. Novel methods for flow seeding and illumination are being developed, as well as the incorporation of high-speed, high-resolution cameras and optical sectioning techniques. PIV yields instantaneous, two-dimensional, two-component velocity fields together with the out of plane component of vorticity, and is therefore a considerable advantage over the single-point techniques that are currently available for field measurements of wind turbines.

Dabiri

Array of vertical axis wind turbines (left) and flow measured in a horizontal plane at mid-span upstream of a single turbine (right).

Research Area: Physics of Fluids | Faculty: Dabiri

Vortex-enhanced Propulsion

As animals such as jellyfish or squid propel themselves through their environment they leave vortex rings in their wake. Recent experimental work in our group by (Ruiz et al., JFM 2011) has shown that these vortex rings significantly improve the efficiency of propulsion. These results were obtained using a self-propelled submarine which operated in two modes: steady and unsteady. The steady mode just used a propeller and created a jet like any most submarines. However, the unsteady mode used a variable fluid inlet that allowed for the creation of vortex rings in the wake of the vehicle, much like a swimming jellyfish. Using the unsteady mode, the submarine would be able to travel at the same speed yet have approximately 40% longer range than the steady mode. Currently, we are further researching this area by developing a new mechanism for generating the vortex rings, as shown in this photo.

Dabiri

Using fluorescent dye and a laser, we are able to take a photo of the cross-section of a vortex ring during formation. Here we are using a prototype propulsion device that produces vortex rings in order to improve the propulsive efficiency.

Research Area: Physics of Fluids | Faculty: Dabiri

Nonlinear Dynamics

We study nonlinear, discrete systems using theory, experiments and numerical simulations to observe unprecedented mechanical phenomena in solids. The fundamental understanding of such systems enables the design of materials and devices for the control of sound, vibration and thermal excitations.

Daraio

Localization of vibrations in a chain of compressed spheres. The nonlinearity and discreteness present in this type of system can transform vibrations of one frequency, applied at the right side of the chain, to vibrations of a different frequency trapped around a few spheres deeper inside the chain (the amplitude of the vibrations are shown by the height of the peaks).

Research Area: Physics of Solids and Mechanics of Materials | Faculty: Daraio

Impact of ocean turbulence on swimming and feeding (John Dabiri and Kelly Sutherland)

Fluid motions created by organisms in the ocean are vital for both swimming and feeding. These organism-generated flows are likely to be eroded under realistic background turbulence conditions yet, studies of marine organisms are generally conducted in still water. We are designing and implementing experiments to understand how turbulence influences feeding and swimming activities. This work has application to both understanding the flow of energy through the ocean’s food web as well as understanding the performance of underwater vehicles or instruments under realistic flow conditions.

Daraio

Feeding by the ctenophore, Mnemiopsis leidyi (a common jelly-animal in the ocean) in still water and in turbulence. Photo of ctenophore inset on left (D. Cone). Velocity vectors and speed contours show an organism-generated, laminar feeding current between the oral lobes in still water (left). In turbulence, the feeding current appears to be disrupted (right).

Research Area: Physics of Fluids | Faculty: Dabiri

Morphing Surfaces for Flow Control

This research seeks to couple small amplitude, time-dependent perturbations to surface morphology with the controlled response of fluid systems ranging from turbulent boundary layers to bluff body separating flows. As such, experimental and analytical research is under way into both fluid response and the fabrication of smart, morphing surfaces. Objectives include drag reduction and force vector control via the implementation of closed-loop control of high Reynolds number, non-canonical and applied wall-bounded flows using bulk actuation of discrete surface regions, with the potential for a significant contribution to future aerospace design methodologies and vehicle efficiency.

McKeon

Phase-locked reconstruction of a sphere wake manipulated by a mechanical approximation to a morphing surface, namely a roughness element (height 1% of the sphere diameter) driven around the sphere azimuth at constant streamwise angle and optimized angular frequency

Research Area: Physics of Fluids | Faculty: McKeon

Experiments in High Reynolds Number Wall Turbulence

Wall turbulence at high Reynolds numbers is a problem of extensive practical interest, but even the canonical configurations have continued to confound the accumulated wisdom acquired over the last half-century. There is a need for detailed measurements at high Reynolds number and further study of the new measurement issues that arise under these conditions. Ongoing experimental work involves laboratory and field campaigns designed to give insight into flows of practical interest, including the rough wall regime.

McKeon

Reconstructed temporal variation of the streamwise velocity in the near-wall region of the atmospheric surface layer under near thermally neutral conditions. From top to bottom: sliding window mean (logarithmic and linear scales); sliding window root mean square fluctuations; overlay of select contours showing the complex interaction between large and small scale turbulent activity. Measurements were obtained using 31 single normal hot-wires over the first five meters of the layer (Guala, Holmes & McKeon, J. Fluid Mech., 2011).

Research Area: Physics of Fluids | Faculty: McKeon

Theoretical Analyses of Animal Wake Vortex Stability

Swimming animals propel themselves by shedding vortex wakes which range in complexity from the isolated vortex rings of jetting swimmers (such as squid or jellyfish), to the chains of vortex rings formed by most fish. In order to evaluate the performance of these swimmers, we must assess the optimality of the vortex wakes they produce, which requires an understanding of their stability. In this project, we consider simple models for the vortex rings produced by swimming animals, and study their stability under perturbations of the type that might occur during the vortex formation process.

Daraio

The wake of a simulated eel. The chains of vortex rings which form in the wake of a swimming eel are revealed by the forward-time Lagrangian coherent structures (LCS), shown in blue. LCS act as separatrices between regions of different flow kinematics, in this case dividing the eel's vortex wake and the surrounding fluid.

Research Area: Physics of Fluids, Computational & Theoretical Mechanics

A Compact Self-Contained Underwater Velocimetry Apparatus (SCUVA) for In Situ Field Measurements

In-field measurements at remote location present a challenge for the measurement systems involved. Not only do these systems have to be self-sufficient in regard to power supply and data acquisition but also robust and easy to handle. With the current level of miniaturization in electronics it becomes possible to construct PIV-systems, which meet these criteria and are even small enough to be used as hand held devices. The group has extensive experience in developing PIV-system, which are designed for SCUBA divers to take in-field measurements of the flow around marine organisms in daytime. The animals, which have been studied to date, are jelly fish, comb jelly and salps among others.

Dabiri

Photograph of Solmissus jelly fish (left) and PIV measurement of swimming Solmissus (right)

Research Area: Physics of Fluids, Biomechanics | Faculty: Dabiri

Department of Aerospace (GALCIT)