The flapping coupling between two filaments is studied theoretically and experimentally in this paper. A temporal linear instability analysis is carried out based on a simplified hydrodynamic model. The dispersion relationship between the eigen-frequency ω and wavenumber k is expressed by a quartic equation. Two special cases of flapping coupling, i.e. two identical filaments having the same length and two filaments having different lengths, are studied in detail. In the case of two identical filaments, the theoretical analysis predicts four coupling modes, i.e. the stretched-straight mode, the antisymmetrical in-phase mode, the symmetrical out-of-phase mode and the indefinite mode. The theory also predicts the existence of an eigenfrequency jump during transition between the in-phase and out-of-phase modes, which has been observed in previous experiments and numerical simulations. In the case of two filaments having different lengths, four modes similar to those in the former case are identified theoretically. The distribution of coupling modes for both the cases is shown in two planes. One is a dimensionless plane of S vs. U, where S is the density ratio of solid filament to fluid and U2 is the ratio of fluid kinetic energy to solid elastic potential energy. The other is a dimensional plane of the half-distance (h) between two filaments vs. the filament length (L). Relevant experiments are carried out in a soap-film tunnel and the stable and unstable modes are observed. Theory and experiment are compared in detail. It should be noted that the model used in our analysis is a very simplified one that can provide intuitional analytical results of the coupling modes as well as their qualitative distributions. The factors neglected in our model, such as vortex shedding, viscous and nonlinear effects, do not allow the model to predict results precisely consistent with the experiments. Moreover, the Strouhal numbers of the flapping filaments are found to be generally around a fixed value in the experiments for both cases, implying that the filaments try to maintain a lower potential energy state.
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