Vortex-wake interactions of a flapping foil that models animal swimming and flight

D. Lentink, F.T. Muijres, F.J. Donker-Duyvis, J.L. van Leeuwen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


The fluid dynamics of many swimming and flying animals involves the generation and shedding of vortices into the wake. Here we studied the dynamics of similar vortices shed by a simple two-dimensional flapping foil in a soap-film tunnel. The flapping foil models an animal wing, fin or tail in forward locomotion. The vortical flow induced by the foil is correlated to (the resulting) thickness variations in the soap film. We visualized these thickness variations through light diffraction and recorded it with a digital high speed camera. This set-up enabled us to study the influence of foil kinematics on vortex-wake interactions. We varied the dimensionless wavelength of the foil (*=4¿24) at a constant dimensionless flapping amplitude (A*=1.5) and geometric angle of attack amplitude (A,geo=15°). The corresponding Reynolds number was of the order of 1000. Such values are relevant for animal swimming and flight. We found that a significant leading edge vortex (LEV) was generated by the foil at low dimensionless wavelengths (*
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-273
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • unsteady aerodynamic performance
  • low reynolds-numbers
  • soap films
  • insect flight
  • flow
  • mechanism
  • vortices
  • dynamics
  • airfoil

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Vortex-wake interactions of a flapping foil that models animal swimming and flight'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this