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Fluid-Structure Interaction of Flexible Whisker-Type Beams and Its Implication for Flow Sensing by Pair-Wise Correlation

Glick, R., Muthuramalingam, M. & Brücker, C. ORCID: 0000-0001-5834-3020 (2021). Fluid-Structure Interaction of Flexible Whisker-Type Beams and Its Implication for Flow Sensing by Pair-Wise Correlation. Fluid Structure Interaction: Methods and Applications, 6(3), article number 102. doi: 10.3390/fluids6030102


(1) Background: Sensing of critical events or flow signatures in nature often presents itself as a coupled interaction between a fluid and arrays of slender flexible beams, such a wind-hairs or whiskers. It is hypothesized that important information is gained in highly noisy environments by the inter-correlation within the array.

(2) Methods: The present study uses a model sea lion head with artificial whiskers in the form of slender beams (optical fibres), which are subjected to a mean flow with overlaid turbulent structures generated in the wake of a cylinder. Motion tracking of the array of fibres is used to analyse the correlation of the bending deformations of pairs of fibres.

(3) Results: Cross-correlation of the bending signal from tandem pairs of whiskers proves that the detection of vortices and their passage along the animals head is possible even in noisy environments. The underlying pattern, during passage of a vortex core, is a jerk-like response of the whiskers, which can be found at later arrival-times in similar form in the downstream whisker's response.

(4) Conclusion: Coherent vortical structures can be detected from cross-correlation of pairs of cantilever-beam like sensors even in highly turbulent flows. Such vortices carry important information within the environment, e.g. the underlying convection velocity. More importantly in nature, these vortices are characteristic elementary signals left by prey and predators. The present work can help to further develop flow, or critical event, sensory systems which can overcome high noise levels due to the proposed correlation principle.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: tandem cylinders; flexible beams; fluid–structure interaction; whisker sensing; cross-correlation; coherent vortices; convection velocity; optical fiber sensors; pinniped head
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
T Technology > TL Motor vehicles. Aeronautics. Astronautics
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Engineering
SWORD Depositor:
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