Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type





Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Jamey D. Jacob


Plasma synthetic jet actuators are investigated experimentally, in which the geometrical design of single dielectric barrier discharge (SDBD) plasma actuators is modified to produce zero-mass flux jets similar to those created by mechanical devices. The SDBD plasma actuator consists of two rectangular electrodes oriented asymmetrically and separated by a layer of dielectric material. Under an input of high voltage, high frequency AC or pulsed DC, a region of plasma is created in the interfacial air gap on account of electrical breakdown of the ambient air. A coupling between the electric field in the plasma and the neutral air near the actuator is introduced, such that the latter experiences a net force which results in a horizontal wall jet. This effect of the actuator has been demonstrated to be useful in mitigating boundary layer separation in aerodynamic flows. To increase the impact that a plasma actuator may have on the flow field, this research investigates the development and characterization of a novel flow control device, the plasma synthetic jet actuator, which tailors the residual air in the form of a vertical jet resembling conventional continuous and synthetic jets. This jet can be either three dimensional using annular electrode arrays, or nearly two dimensional using two rectangular strip exposed electrodes and one embedded electrode. Detailed measurements on the isolated plasma synthetic jet reveal that pulsed operation of the actuator results in the formation of multiple counterrotating vortical structures in the flow field. The output jet velocity and momentum are found to be higher for unsteady pulsing as compared to steady operation. In the case of flow over a flat plate, the actuator is observed to create a localized interaction region within which the baseline flow direction and boundary layer characteristics are modified. The efficiency of the actuator in coupling momentum to the neutral air is found to be related to the plasma morphology, pulsing frequency, actuator dimension, and input power. An analytical scaling model is proposed to describe the effects of varying the above variables on the output jet characteristics and actuator efficiency, and the experimental data is used for model validation. (7455 kB)
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