Three dimensional flow motions in the viscous sublayer

S. Santosh Kumar, Xinyi Huang, Xiang Yang, Jiarong Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We employ novel digital Fresnel reflection holography to capture the 3D flows within the viscous sublayer of a smooth-wall turbulent channel flow at Reτ=400. The measurements reveal unsteady and diverse flow patterns in the sublayer including nearly uniform high and low speed flows and strong small-scale (on the order of viscous wall units) spanwise meandering motions. The probability density functions (PDFs) of wall shear stresses show a clear discrepancy in high stress range with those from direct numerical simulation (DNS), which is attributed to the unresolved streamwise and spanwise motions by DNS. Moreover, the PDF of Lagrangian particle accelerations yields a stretched exponential shape like that in homogenous isotropic turbulence, indicating strong intermittency in the sublayer. We find a significant fraction of high accelerations is associated with the small-scale meandering motions. Our study helps explain the effect of sublayer-scale roughness on reducing drag and flow separation reported in the literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100239
JournalTheoretical and Applied Mechanics Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • DNS
  • Digital holography
  • Meandering motions
  • Sublayer-scale roughness
  • Turbulent channel flow
  • Viscous sublayer


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