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PRL Published Research by Tian Xinliang’s Team as Cover Image

July 15, 2020      Author: Kou Yufeng

On July 14, Associate Professor Tian Xinliang’s Team from School of Navel Architecture, Ocean & Civil Engineering, SJTU, published a paper entitled “Shape deformation and drag variation of a coupled rigid-flexible system in a flowing soap film” in Physical Review Letters (PRL), a top international journal in physics. This research proposed “soft tail drag reduction”, a new drag reduction method, which was confirmed through elaborate experiment. This work was included into “Editors’ Suggestion” and introduced as a Highlight research on the homepage of PRL. It was also selected as the cover image for Vol. 125, Iss. 3.

The research was independently completed by three master students led by Associate Professor Tian Xinliang, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University is the only affiliation. Gao Song, the first author of the thesis, has graduated and is currently studying for a Ph.D. degree at Northwestern University; the second author Pan Song and the third author Wang Huaicheng are both second-year master students; the last author and corresponding author is Tian Xinliang. This research is funded by the Shanghai Natural Science Foundation (19ZR1426300) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (11632011).


We experimentally study the soap film flow past a rigid plate with a trailing closed filament of a small bending modulus acting as a flexible afterbody. The complex fluid-structure interactions due to the deformable afterbody shape and corresponding dynamics are studied. We find that the shape of the afterbody is determined by filament length, filament bending modulus, and flow speed. A significant drag reduction of approximately 10.0% is achieved under specific conditions. We analyze the drag mechanism by characterizing the deformable afterbody shape. Our experiment and modeling suggest that such a flow control strategy and sizable drag reduction are expected to occur over a specific flow speed regime when a suitable flexible coating is added.


Translated by Fu Jing