The idea of tying a knot in a vortex ring (like a smoke ring) was originated with Lord Kelvin over a century ago. But creating them in the laboratory had been very difficult. University of Chicago physicists have succeeded in creating the first knotted vortex in a lab, using 3D printers and high speed cameras.
The duo overcame their experimental difficulties by designing and fabricating various hydrofoils (wings used in water) on a 3-D printer. They tried approximately 30 different shapes before they successfully created the desired vortices. When accelerated in a water tank at more than 100 g, hydrofoils leave behind bubble-traced vortex loops, whose dynamics the researchers recorded with a high-speed camera.
"The bubbles are a great trick because they allow you to see the core of the vortex very clearly," says William Irvine, assistant professor in physics.
Knotted vortices allow physicists to study the precise way in which knots untie themselves in a real physical field. In future research, they hope to perform some of their experiments at larger scale to investigate whether size would lend greater stability to vortex rings.
Source: UChicago News
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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