Self-excited flag vibrations produce post-stall flow control

Junchen Tan, Zhijin Wang, Ismet Gursul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)
86 Downloads (Pure)


We present experiments demonstrating that a small flag attached to the surface of an airfoil near the leading edge exhibits self-excited oscillations when the airfoil is set at a post-stall angle of attack. The limit cycle oscillations of the flag between the airfoil surface and the freestream have a dominant frequency and promote reattachment of the flow, producing a remarkable increase in the maximum lift coefficient and stall angle. Leading-edge vortex shedding and formation of a separation bubble are observed when the flag tip reaches around the maximum displacement. The instantaneous flow and the range of oscillation frequency have strong similarities to those of the active flow control methods for separation, yet this is a passive flow control method that relies on unsteady effects. The flag oscillations occur mostly in the first structural mode, while the higher modes reveal the three-dimensionality of the flag displacement field. The oscillation frequencies of the flag are in the same range of vortex shedding frequency of the baseline airfoil, suggesting that the wake resonance mechanism may be behind the observations of the enhanced lift at the post-stall angles of attack. There is virtually no effect of the compliant flag on the mean lift at small angles of attack.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL102701
Number of pages7
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Self-excited flag vibrations produce post-stall flow control'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this