Snap-through buckling is a type of instability in which an elastic object rapidly jumps from one state to another, just as an umbrella flips upwards in a gust of wind. While snap-through under dry, mechanical loads has already been harnessed in engineering to generate fast motions between two states, the mechanisms underlying snapping in bulk fluid flows remain relatively unexplored. In this talk we demonstrate how elastic snap-through may be used to passively control fluid flows at low Reynolds number, in contrast to some pre-existing valves that rely on active control. We study viscous flow through a channel in which one of the bounding walls is an elastic arch. By performing experiments at the macroscopic scale, we show that snap-through of the arch rapidly changes the channel from a constricted to an unconstricted state, increasing the hydraulic conductivity by up to an order of magnitude. We also observe nonlinear pressure-flux characteristics away from snapping due to the coupling between the driving flow and elasticity. This behaviour is confirmed by a mathematical model that also shows the device may readily be scaled down for microfluidic applications. Finally, we demonstrate that such a device may be used to create a fluidic analogue of a fuse: the fluid flux through a channel may not rise above a given value.
- Junior Applied Mathematics Seminar