Experiments on mixing due to chaotic advection in a cavity

C. W. Leong, J. M. Ottino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

191 Scopus citations


Chaotic mixing of fluids in slow flows is ubiquitous but incompletely understood. However, relatively simple experiments provide a wealth of information regarding mixing mechanisms and indicate the need for complementary theoretical developments in dynamical systems. In this work we present a versatile cavity flow apparatus, capable of producing a variety of two-dimensional velocity fields, and use it to conduct a detailed experimental study of mixing in low-Reynolds-number flows. Since the goal is detailed understanding, only two time-periodic co-rotating flows induced by wall motions are considered : one continuous and the other discontinuous. Both types of flows produce exponential growth of intermaterial area, as expected from chaotic flows, and a mixture of islands and chaotic regions. A procedure for identifying periodic points and determining their movements is presented as well as how to make meaningful comparisons between periodic flows. We observe that periodic points move very much as a planetary system ; planets (hyperbolic points) have moons (elliptic points) with twice the period of the planets ; furthermore the spatial arrangement of periodic points becomes symmetric at regular time intervals. Detailed analyses reveal complex behaviour : birth, bifurcation, and collapse of islands ; formation and periodic motion of coherent structures, such as islands and large-scale folds. However, the richness and complexity of the results obtained indicate that these two-dimensional time-periodic systems are far from completely understood and that other wall motions might deserve a similar level of scrutiny.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-499
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Dec 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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