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Effects of Controlled Three-Dimensional Perturbations on Boundary Layer Transition


Schneider, Steven Philip (1989) Effects of Controlled Three-Dimensional Perturbations on Boundary Layer Transition. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/ZJ0M-GG83.


The laminar-turbulent transition in a flat plate boundary layer was studied experimentally using a spanwise array of computer-controlled surface heating elements. The elements were used to introduce disturbances at a point just downstream of the critical Reynolds number. When sinusoidal heating at an unstable frequency is carried out, instability waves develop and grow as they travel downstream. Measurements were made using flush-mounted hot-film wall shear sensors, and the later stages of transition were visualized using dye injection. Oblique Tollmien-Schlichting waves were successfully introduced, and their downstream development into the turbulent regime was studied. Exploratory studies of other types of 3D forcing are also reported.

Measurements of oblique waves in the linear region yielded phase speeds and wave angles that were consistent with the linear theory. Subharmonics of the oblique-wave wall shear were seen downstream, in the nonlinear region. Surprisingly, the amplitude of these subharmonic waves decreased abruptly with increasing oblique-wave angle, so that an oblique wave of about 10 degrees had a subharmonic amplitude which was an order of magnitude below that for a 2D wave. Waves of larger oblique angles did not produce detectable subharmonics. A simple explanation of this behavior is given, in terms of the wave-interaction theory.

The intermittency, defined as the fraction of time in which the wall shear is turbulent, was measured to determine the relative location of transition. These measurements, carried out further downstream, show that the introduction of a 2D wave is most effective in moving the transition point upstream, for a given power input. This upstream movement of transition slowly decreases as the oblique wave angle is increased. The fact that there is no abrupt movement of transition corresponding to the abrupt disappearance of the subharmonic nonlinear breakdown mechanism suggests there should be a simpler explanation for the nonlinear breakdown.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:boundary layer transition experiments; controlled perturbations; nonlinear interactions; oblique instability waves; water flows
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Aeronautics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Roshko, Anatol
Thesis Committee:
  • Coles, Donald Earl (chair)
  • Cohen, Donald S.
  • Liepmann, Hans Wolfgang
  • Leonard, Anthony
  • Roshko, Anatol
Defense Date:10 March 1989
Non-Caltech Author Email:steves (AT)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Office of Naval Research (ONR)N00014-85-K-0205
Office of Naval Research (ONR)N00014-87-K-0100
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-02142007-094214
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:635
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:13 Mar 2007
Last Modified:21 Oct 2021 01:26

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