Efficient kinematics for jet-propelled swimming

S. Alben, L. A. Miller, J. Peng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Abstract We use computer simulations and an analytical model to study the relationship between kinematics and performance in jet-propelled jellyfish swimming. We prescribe different power-law kinematics for the bell contraction and expansion, and identify kinematics that yield high swimming speeds and/or high efficiency. In the simulations, high efficiency is found when the bell radius is a nearly linear function of time, and in a second case corresponding to 'burst-and-coast' kinematics. The analytical model studies the contraction phase only, and finds that the efficiency-optimizing bell radius as a function of time transitions from nearly linear (similar to the numerics) for small-to-moderate output power to exponentially decaying for large output power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-133
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • biological fluid dynamics
  • propulsion
  • swimming/flying

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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