Research in Engineering and Aviation

Characterization of Linear Plasma Synthetic Jet Actuators in an Initially Quiescent Medium

April 2009

Author(s): Santhanakrishnan, A., D.A. Reasor, Jr., and R.P. LeBeau

Journal: Physics of Fluids, 21, Issue 4, 043601, 18 pages. DOI: 10.1063/1.3097004


The plasma synthetic jet actuator (PSJA) is a geometrical variant of the aerodynamic plasma actuator that can be used to produce zero-mass flux jets similar to those created by mechanical devices. This jet can be either three-dimensional using annular electrode arrays (annular PSJA) or nearly two dimensional using two rectangular-strip exposed electrodes and one embedded electrode (linear PSJA). Unsteady pulsing of the PSJA at time scales decoupled to the ac input frequency results in a flow field dominated by counter-rotating vortical structures similar to conventional synthetic jets, and the peak velocity and momentum of the jet is found to be affected by a combination of the pulsing frequency and input power. This paper investigates the fluid dynamic characteristics of linear plasma synthetic jet actuators in an initially quiescent medium. Two-dimensional particle image velocimetry measurements on the actuator are used to validate a previously developed numerical model wherein the plasma behavior is introduced into the Navier–Stokes equations as an electrohydrodynamic force term calculated from Maxwell’s equations and solved for the fluid momentum. The numerical model was implemented in an incompressible, unstructured grid code. The results of the simulations are observed to reproduce some aspects of the qualitative and quantitative experimental behavior of the jet for steady and pulsed modes of actuator operation. The self-similarity behavior of plasma synthetic jets are examined and compared to mechanically driven continuous and synthetic jets.