Investigations of the Richtmyer–Meshkov instability carried out in shock tubes have traditionally used membranes to separate the two gases. The use of membranes, in addition to introducing other experimental difficulties, impedes the use of advanced visualization techniques such as planar laser-induced fluorescence (PLIF). Jones & Jacobs (1997) recently developed a new technique by which a perturbed, membrane-free gas–gas interface can be created in a shock tube. The gases enter the shock tube from opposite ends and exit through two small slots on opposite sides of the test section, forming a stagnation point flow at the interface location. A gentle rocking motion of the shock tube then provides the initial perturbation in the form of a standing wave. The original investigation using this technique utilized dense fog seeding for visualization, which allowed large-scale effects to be observed, but was incapable of resolving smaller-scale features. PLIF visualization is used in the present study to investigate the instability generated by two incident shock strengths (Ms = 1.11 and 1.21), yielding very clear digital images of the flow. Early-time growth rate measurements obtained from these experiments are found to be in excellent agreement with incompressible linear stability theory (appropriately adjusted for a diffuse interface). Very good agreement is also found between the late-time amplitude measurements and the nonlinear models of Zhang & Sohn (1997) and Sadot et al. (1998). Comparison of images from the Ms = 1.11 and 1.21 sequences reveals a significant increase in the amount of turbulent mixing in the higher-Mach-number experiments, suggesting that a mixing transition has occurred.
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