Direct numerical simulation of controlled transition in a flat-plate boundary layer

U. Rist, H. Fasel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

183 Scopus citations


The three-dimensional development of controlled transition in a flat-plate boundary layer is investigated by direct numerical simulation (DNS) using the complete Navier-Stokes equations. The numerical investigations are based on the so-called spatial model, thus allowing realistic simulations of spatially developing transition phenomena as observed in laboratory experiments. For solving the Navier-Stokes equations, an efficient and accurate numerical method was developed employing fourth-order finite differences in the downstream and wall-normal directions and treating the spanwise direction pseudo-spectrally. The present paper focuses on direct simulations of the wind-tunnel experiments by Kachanov et al. (1984, 1985) of fundamental breakdown in controlled transition. The numerical results agreed very well with the experimental measurements up to the second spike stage, in spite of relatively coarse spanwise resolution. Detailed analysis of the numerical data allowed identification of the essential breakdown mechanisms. In particular, from our numerical data, we could identify the dominant shear layers and vortical structures that are associated with this breakdown process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-248
Number of pages38
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Sep 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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