Experiments in Fluids

, 60:13 | Cite as

Skin friction and coherent structures within a laminar separation bubble

  • M. MiozziEmail author
  • A. Capone
  • M. Costantini
  • L. Fratto
  • C. Klein
  • F. Di Felice
Research Article


We study the Laminar Separation Bubble (LSB) which develops on the suction side of a NACA 0015 hydrofoil by means of a Temperature-Sensitive Paint (TSP), at a Reynolds number of \(1.8\times 10^5\) and angles of attack \(\mathrm{AoA} = [3^{\circ }\), \(5^{\circ }\), \(7^{\circ }\), \(10^{\circ }\)]. The thermal footprints \(T_\mathrm{w}(x,y,t)\) of the fluid unveil three different flow regimes whose complexity in time and space decreases when \(\mathrm{AoA}\) increases, up to \(10^{\circ }\) where the LSB-induced spatial gradients are linked to quasi-steady positions in time. At \(\mathrm{AoA} =7^{\circ }\) the LSB system undergoes a 3D destabilization, that induces C-shaped arcs at separation and weak bubble-flapping at reattachment. Structural changes occur at \(AoA=5^{\circ }\) and \(3^{\circ }\): bubble-flapping raises homogeneously at reattachment while intermittent, wedge-shaped events alter the LSB shape. The relative skin-friction vector fields \(\varvec {\tau }_\mathrm{w}(x,y,t)\), extracted from \(T_\mathrm{w}(x,y,t)\) by means of an optical-flow-based algorithm, provide the topology of the flow at the wall and feed a physics-based criterion for the identification of flow separation \({\mathfrak {S}}(y,t)\) and reattachment \({\mathfrak {R}}(y,t)\). This criterion fulfills, in average, a novel skin-friction ground-truth estimation grounded on the determination of the propagation velocity of temperature fluctuations. The obtained \({\mathfrak {S}}(y,t)\) is composed of several manifolds that extend spanwise from saddle points to converging nodes via the saddles unstable manifold, while, at least at higher AoA, manifolds that compose \({\mathfrak {R}}(y,t)\) move from diverging nodes to saddle points via the saddles stable manifolds. The triggering of a wedge-shaped event by a rising \(\varOmega\)-shaped vortex in the reverse LSB flow is captured and described in analogy to a simplified model.

Graphical Abstract



This work has been supported by the Flagship Project RITMARE, The Italian Research for the Sea, coordinated by the Italian National Research Council and funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research. Carsten Fuchs (DLR) is acknowledged for TSP surface treatment. An anonymous reviewer is also acknowledged for her/his careful contribution to improving the quality of the article.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 2 (MP4 9567 KB)

Supplementary material 3 (MP4 8626 KB)

Supplementary material 4 (MP4 7292 KB)

348_2018_2651_MOESM5_ESM.mp4 (25.5 mb)
Supplementary material 5 (MP4 26149 KB)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CNR-INM (formerly INSEAN), Marine Technology InstituteRomeItaly
  2. 2.German Aerospace Center (DLR)GöttingenGermany

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