Thrust measurements and flow field analysis of a piezoelectrically actuated oscillating cantilever Academic Article uri icon


  • Although not identical to the motion employed by nature's swimmers and flyers, the simple harmonic oscillations of cantilever-like structures have been shown to provide efficient low-power solutions for applications ranging from thermal management to propulsion. However, in order to quantify their true potential, the resulting flow field and corresponding thrust must be better understood. In this work, a thin, flexible cantilever is actuated via a piezoelectric patch mounted near its base and caused to vibrate in its first resonance mode in air. The flow field is experimentally measured with particle image velocimetry while the thrust produced from the oscillatory motion is quantified using a high-resolution scale. The trends observed in the data are captured using an oscillating Reynolds number, and a clear relationship is defined between the operating parameters and the resulting thrust. Two-dimensional flow fields are extracted from the x-y and y-z planes and are primarily used to motivate future geometry and sidewall configurations that could greatly enhance the thrust capabilities of the cantilever by directing the flow downstream in a more effective manner. 2012 Springer-Verlag.

published proceedings

  • Experiments in Fluids

altmetric score

  • 6

author list (cited authors)

  • Eastman, A., Kiefer, J., & Kimber, M.

citation count

  • 27

complete list of authors

  • Eastman, Andrew||Kiefer, Jacob||Kimber, Mark

publication date

  • November 2012