Immersed boundary methods for simulating fluid-structure interaction

Fotis Sotiropoulos, Xiaolei Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

324 Scopus citations


Fluid-structure interaction (FSI) problems commonly encountered in engineering and biological applications involve geometrically complex flexible or rigid bodies undergoing large deformations. Immersed boundary (IB) methods have emerged as a powerful simulation tool for tackling such flows due to their inherent ability to handle arbitrarily complex bodies without the need for expensive and cumbersome dynamic re-meshing strategies. Depending on the approach such methods adopt to satisfy boundary conditions on solid surfaces they can be broadly classified as diffused and sharp interface methods. In this review, we present an overview of the fundamentals of both classes of methods with emphasis on solution algorithms for simulating FSI problems. We summarize and juxtapose different IB approaches for imposing boundary conditions, efficient iterative algorithms for solving the incompressible Navier-Stokes equations in the presence of dynamic immersed boundaries, and strong and loose coupling FSI strategies. We also present recent results from the application of such methods to study a wide range of problems, including vortex-induced vibrations, aquatic swimming, insect flying, human walking and renewable energy. Limitations of such methods and the need for future research to mitigate them are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalProgress in Aerospace Sciences
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Fluid-structure interaction
  • Immersed boundary method
  • Navier-Stokes equation


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