UNS: Collaborative Research: Fluid mechanical basis of universal natural propulsor bending patterns
The goal of the proposed study is to investigate the mechanisms by which different swimming animals propel and maneuver themselves in order to identify common flow characteristics. Results of this work will be applicable to the engineering of vehicles that can bend and twist, mimicking efficient swimmers from nature. Efficient swimmers in nature appear to exhibit common traits in the bending and twisting of their bodies. While the effects of other morphological characteristics of swimmers have been explored, this is an area that we do not have a good understanding. The basic hypothesis is that the bending kinematics among various species are similar, and these unifying characteristics need to be discovered. Validation of the hypothesis to the broader animal kingdom will be tested using animal informatics. The proposed work focuses on the study of the propulsion of three different model animals (jellyfish, pteropods and lamprey), so that the common swimming traits can be identified, characterized and theoretically analyzed. State-of-the-art experimental techniques (such as 2D and 3D particle image velocimetry and holographing imaging) will be used to quantify the flow, the forces, the torque and the pressure fields generated during bending by these animal models. The final goal is to provide not only quantitative but also predictive evaluation of the fluid dynamic effects of propulsor bending.