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Concept: Wingtip vortices


Large ears enhance perception of echolocation and prey generated sounds in bats. However, external ears likely impair aerodynamic performance of bats compared to birds. But large ears may generate lift on their own, mitigating the negative effects. We studied flying brown long-eared bats, using high resolution, time resolved particle image velocimetry, to determine the aerodynamics of flying with large ears. We show that the ears and body generate lift at medium to cruising speeds (3-5 m/s), but at the cost of an interaction with the wing root vortices, likely reducing inner wing performance. We also propose that the bats use a novel wing pitch mechanism at the end of the upstroke generating thrust at low speeds, which should provide effective pitch and yaw control. In addition, the wing tip vortices show a distinct spiraling pattern. The tip vortex of the previous wingbeat remains into the next wingbeat and rotates together with a newly formed tip vortex. Several smaller vortices, related to changes in circulation around the wing also spiral the tip vortex. Our results thus show a new level of complexity in bat wakes and suggest large eared bats are less aerodynamically limited than previous wake studies have suggested.

Concepts: Fluid dynamics, Aerodynamics, Bat, Drag, Spiral, Fixed-wing aircraft, Lift, Wingtip vortices


Many species travel in highly organized groups. The most quoted function of these configurations is to reduce energy expenditure and enhance locomotor performance of individuals in the assemblage. The distinctive V formation of bird flocks has long intrigued researchers and continues to attract both scientific and popular attention. The well-held belief is that such aggregations give an energetic benefit for those birds that are flying behind and to one side of another bird through using the regions of upwash generated by the wings of the preceding bird, although a definitive account of the aerodynamic implications of these formations has remained elusive. Here we show that individuals of northern bald ibises (Geronticus eremita) flying in a V flock position themselves in aerodynamically optimum positions, in that they agree with theoretical aerodynamic predictions. Furthermore, we demonstrate that birds show wingtip path coherence when flying in V positions, flapping spatially in phase and thus enabling upwash capture to be maximized throughout the entire flap cycle. In contrast, when birds fly immediately behind another bird–in a streamwise position–there is no wingtip path coherence; the wing-beats are in spatial anti-phase. This could potentially reduce the adverse effects of downwash for the following bird. These aerodynamic accomplishments were previously not thought possible for birds because of the complex flight dynamics and sensory feedback that would be required to perform such a feat. We conclude that the intricate mechanisms involved in V formation flight indicate awareness of the spatial wake structures of nearby flock-mates, and remarkable ability either to sense or predict it. We suggest that birds in V formation have phasing strategies to cope with the dynamic wakes produced by flapping wings.

Concepts: Aerodynamics, Wing, Fixed-wing aircraft, Threskiornithidae, Ibis, Wingtip vortices, Northern Bald Ibis, Geronticus


An experimental investigation of near field aerodynamics of wind dispersed rotary seeds has been performed using stereoscopic digital particle image velocimetry (DPIV). The detailed three-dimensional (3D) flow structure of the leading-edge vortex (LEV) of autorotating Mahogany seeds (Swietenia macrophylla) in a low-speed vertical wind tunnel are revealed for the first time. The results confirm that the presence of strong spanwise flow and strain produced by centrifugal forces through a spiral vortex are responsible for the attachment and stability of the LEV, with its core forming a cone pattern with gradual increase in vortex size. The LEV appears at 25% of the wingspan, increases in size and strength outboard along the wing, and reaches its maximum stability and spanwise velocity at 75% of the wingspan. At a region between 90% and 100% of the wingspan, the strength and stability of the vortex core decreases and the LEV re-orientation/inflection with the tip vortex takes place. In this study, the instantaneous flow structure and the instantaneous velocity and vorticity fields measured in planes parallel to the free stream direction are presented as contour plots using an inertial and a non-inertial frame of reference. Results for the mean aerodynamic thrust coefficients as a function of the Reynolds number are presented to supplement the DPIV data.

Concepts: Fluid dynamics, Measurement, Aerodynamics, Reynolds number, Frame of reference, Inertial frame of reference, Wingtip vortices, Wind tunnel


There are three common methods for calculating the lift generated by a flying animal based on the measured airflow in the wake. However, these methods might not be accurate according to computational and robot-based studies of flapping wings. Here we test this hypothesis for the first time for a slowly flying Pacific parrotlet in still air using stereo particle image velocimetry recorded at 1000 Hz. The bird was trained to fly between two perches through a laser sheet wearing laser safety goggles. We found that the wingtip vortices generated during mid-downstroke advected down and broke up quickly, contradicting the frozen turbulence hypothesis typically assumed in animal flight experiments. The quasi-steady lift at mid-downstroke was estimated based on the velocity field by applying the widely used Kutta-Joukowski theorem, vortex ring model, and actuator disk model. The calculated lift was found to be sensitive to the applied model and its different parameters, including vortex span and distance between the bird and laser sheet-rendering these three accepted ways of calculating weight support inconsistent. The three models predict different aerodynamic force values mid-downstroke compared to independent direct measurements with an aerodynamic force platform that we had available for the same species flying over a similar distance. Whereas the lift predictions of the Kutta-Joukowski theorem and the vortex ring model stayed relatively constant despite vortex breakdown, their values were too low. In contrast, the actuator disk model predicted lift reasonably accurately before vortex breakdown, but predicted almost no lift during and after vortex breakdown. Some of these limitations might be better understood, and partially reconciled, if future animal flight studies report lift calculations based on all three quasi-steady lift models instead. This would also enable much needed meta studies of animal flight to derive bioinspired design principles for quasi-steady lift generation with flapping wings.

Concepts: Mathematics, Fluid dynamics, Prediction, Aerodynamics, Wing, Vortex, Lift, Wingtip vortices


The impact of hydrostatic pressure (P) up to 1 GPa on T c , J c and the nature of the pinning mechanism in FexNbSe2 single crystals have been investigated within the framework of the collective theory. We found that the pressure can induce a transition from the regime where pinning is controlled by spatial variation in the critical transition temperature (δT c ) to the regime controlled by spatial variation in the mean free path (δℓ). Furthermore, T c and low field J c are slightly induced, although the J c drops more rapidly at high fields than at ambient P. The pressure effect enhances the anisotropy and reduces the coherence length, resulting in weak interaction of the vortex cores with the pinning centers. Moreover, the P can induce the density of states, which, in turn, leads to enhance in T c with increasing P. P enhances the T c with the rates of dT c /dP of 0.86, 1.35 and 1.47 K/GPa for FexNbSe2, respectively. The magnetization data are used to establish a vortex phase diagram. The nature of the vortices has been determined from the scaling behaviour of the pinning force density extracted from the J c -H isotherms and demonstrates the point pinning mechanism.

Concepts: Optics, Fundamental physics concepts, Silicon, Solid, Phase transition, Pressure, Vacuum, Wingtip vortices


Unsteady flows contain information about the objects creating them. Aquatic organisms offer intriguing paradigms for extracting flow information using local sensory measurements. In contrast, classical methods for flow analysis require global knowledge of the flow field. Here, we train neural networks to classify flow patterns using local vorticity measurements. Specifically, we consider vortex wakes behind an oscillating airfoil and we evaluate the accuracy of the network in distinguishing between three wake types, 2S, 2P+2S and 2P+4S. The network uncovers the salient features of each wake type. .

Concepts: Fluid dynamics, Networks, Shortest path problem, Lift, Wingtip vortices, Global Television Network


Alternatively permutated conic (APC) baffles were proposed to generate vertical and horizontal vortex flow to intensify mixing and mass transfer in a raceway pond. Both clockwise vortexes were generated before and after conic baffles in the main stream to increase perpendicular velocity by 40.3% and vorticity magnitude by 1.7 times on vertical cross section. Self-rotary flow around conic baffles and vortex flow among conic baffles were generated to increase perpendicular velocity by 80.4% and vorticity magnitude by 4.2 times on horizontal cross section. The bubble generation time and diameter decreased by 25.5% and 38.7%, respectively, while bubble residence time increased by 84.3%. The solution mixing time decreased by 48.1% and mass transfer coefficient increased by 34.0% with optimized relative spacing (ε) and height (ω) of conic baffles. The biomass productivity of Spirulina increased by 39.6% under pure CO2 with APC baffles in a raceway pond.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Fluid dynamics, Vector field, Chemical engineering, Vortex, Vorticity, Vortical, Wingtip vortices


Picosecond pulsed frequency-doubled optical vortices were generated using a pair of β-BaB2O4 crystals with their c axes inverted. This arrangement produced high-quality ultraviolet vortex output with low spatial separation of the phase singularity at a conversion efficiency of ∼40%. We also discuss the theoretical spatial form and beam propagation of the ultraviolet vortex output.

Concepts: Optics, Physics, Vortex, Wingtip vortices, Optical vortex


Diverse topological defects arise in hexagonal manganites, such as ferroelectric vortices, as well as neutral and charged domain walls. The topological defects are intriguing because their low symmetry enables unusual couplings between structural, charge and spin degrees of freedom, holding great potential for novel types of functional 2D and 1D systems. Despite the considerable advances in analyzing the different topological defects in hexagonal manganites, the understanding of their key intrinsic properties is still rather limited and disconnected. In particular, a rapidly increasing number of structural variants is reported without clarifying their relation, leading to a zoo of seemingly unrelated topological textures. Here, we combine picometer-precise scanning-transmission-electron microscopy with Landau-theory modeling to clarify the inner structure of topological defects in Er1-xZrxMnO3. By performing a comprehensive parametrization of the inner atomic structure, we demonstrate that one primary length scale drives the morphology of both vortices and domain walls. Our findings lead to a unifying general picture of this type of structural topological defects. We further derive novel fundamental and universal properties, such as unusual bound-charge distributions and electrostatics at the ferroelectric vortex cores with emergent U(1) symmetry.

Concepts: Electron, Electric charge, Fundamental physics concepts, Structure, Atom, Geometry, Category theory, Wingtip vortices


The dynamics of a simple perching manoeuvre are investigated using circular and aspect-ratio-two elliptical flat plates, as abstractions of low-aspect-ratio planforms observed in highly-manoeuvrable birds. The perching kinematic investigated in this study involves a pitch-up motion from an angle of attack of [Formula: see text] to [Formula: see text], while simultaneously decelerating. This motion is defined by the shape change number, [Formula: see text], which acts as a measure of the relative contributions of added-mass and circulatory effects. This motion has been observed in natural flyers during controlled landings, and has recently been explored through the use of a nominally two-dimensional airfoil. The parameter space of low-aspect-ratio plates therefore serves to elucidate how realistic free-end conditions affect the timescales of vortex evolution, and therefore the relative contributions between added mass and circulation. The results presented herein suggest that for the low-aspect-ratio plates, the shedding of vortices occurs more rapidly than for equivalent two-dimensional cases, and therefore faster pitching motions are required to compensate for the lower levels of lift and drag. Furthermore, the vortex topology and instantaneous forces that arise during the rapid-area changes show no sensitivity to aspect ratio, and strong collapse is observed between both flat plates. Similar aerodynamic advantages may therefore be exploited during perching manoeuvres by birds of various scale regardless of wing aspect ratio.

Concepts: Fluid dynamics, Aerodynamics, Classical mechanics, Chord, Drag, Lift, Airfoil, Wingtip vortices