The interactions of shockwaves with boundary layers, termed Shock-Boundary Layer Interactions (SBLI or SWBLI), are ever-present for vehicles operating in the supersonic regime. Depending on the state of the incoming boundary layer, these interactions can be unsteady and lead to significant thermomechanical loads on the surface of the vehicle. An example of how destructive these interactions can be is shown in the images from an X-15 test flight, were shock-shock and shock-boundary layer interactions significantly damage the body and a control surface of the aircraft at Mach 6.7. To this day, SBLI are a source of uncertainty in vehicle design and interest has grown in interactions with an incoming boundary layer state that is transitional (i.e. boundary layer transition from laminar to turbulent is happening in proximity to the shockwave).
The HORIZON group is currently funded by the Office of Naval Research to perform shock wave/transitional boundary layer interaction research. The goal of the research is to characterize the structure and dynamic behavior, and identify any scaling parameters of the interaction as a function of the incoming boundary layer state. This work uses a variety of diagnostic techniques in our on-campus facilities, and has led to collaborations with Texas A&M University and NASA Langley Research Center. Check out the publications page to see the data resulting from this work.