In summary the tilting mechanism helps to explain the overall flow structure and the stability of the leading edge vortex.; The leading edge vortex has been identified as the most critical flow structure for producing lift in flapping wing flight. Its stability depends on the transport of the entrained vorticity into the wake via spanwise flow. This study proposes a hypothesis for the generation and enhancement of spanwise flow based on the chordwise vorticity that results from the tilting of the leading edge vortex and trailing edge vortex. We investigate this phenomenon using dynamically scaled robotic model wings. Two different wing shapes, one rectangular and one based on Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly), are submerged in a tank of mineral oil and driven in a flapping motion. Two separate kinematics, one of constant angular velocity and one of sinusoidal angular velocity are implemented. In order to visualize the flow structure, a novel three dimensional particle image velocimetry system is utilized. From the three dimensional information obtained the chordwise vorticity resulting from the vortex tilting is shown using isosurfaces and planar slices in the wake of the wing. It is observed that the largest spanwise flow is located in the area between the chordwise vorticity of the leading edge vortex and the chordwise vorticity of the trailing edge vortex, supporting the hypothesis that the vortex tilting enhances the spanwise flow. Additionally the LEV on the rectangular wing is found to detach at about 80% span as opposed to 60% span for the elliptical wing. Also, two distinct regions of spanwise flow, one at the base and one at the tip, are observed at the beginning of the sinusoidal kinematic, and as the velocity of the wing increases these two regions unionize into one. Lastly, the general distribution of vorticity around each wing is found to be nearly the same, indicating that different wing shapes do not greatly affect the distribution of vorticity nor stability mechanisms in flapping flight.


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Thesis Completion





Raghavan, Seetha


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Mechanical, Materials and Aerospace Engineering


Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering and Computer Science;Engineering and Computer Science -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis