Journal of Fluid Mechanics

Study of turbulent structure with hot wires smaller than the viscous length

William W.  Willmarth a1 and Lalit K.  Sharma a1p1
a1 Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109

Article author query
willmarth ww   [Google Scholar] 
sharma lk   [Google Scholar] 


The small-scale structure of the streamwise velocity fluctuations in the wall region of a turbulent boundary layer is examined in a new wind-tunnel facility using hot-wires smaller than any previously constructed (typical dimensions: l = 25 μm, d = 0.5 μm). In the boundary layer in which the measurements were made, the ratio of the hot-wire length to the viscous length is 0.3. The turbulent intensity measured with the small hot wires is larger than that measured with longer wires owing to the better spatial resolution of the small wires. The velocity fluctuations measured by the small hot wires are also analysed to determine the burst frequency at two Reynolds numbers and at various distances from the wall. The dimensionless burst frequency does not depend on the Reynolds number when scaled with wall parameters. However, it increases with Reynolds number when scaled with outer variables. Velocity fluctuations measured by two hot wires, less than two viscous lengths apart, are analysed to reveal the small-scale features present during a burst and in the absence of a burst. The main conclusions are: (1) intermittent small-scale shear layers occur most frequently when bursts are present, less frequently just after a burst, and even less frequently just before a burst; and (2) on occasion the velocity gradient of the small-scale shear layers is as large as the mean-velocity gradient at the wall.

(Published Online April 20 2006)
(Received September 18 1980)
(Revised January 4 1984)

p1 Present address: Rockwell Intl Rocketdyne Div., Canoga Park, California.

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