Instability patterns between counter-rotating disks
Abstract. The instability patterns in the flow between counter-rotating disks (radius to height ratio R/h from 3.8 to 20.9) are investigated experimentally by means of visualization and Particle Image Velocimetry. We restrict ourselves to the situation where the boundary layers remain stable, focusing on the shear layer instability that occurs only in the counter-rotating regime. The associated pattern is a combination of a circular chain of vortices, as observed by Lopez et al. (2002) at low aspect ratio, surrounded by a set of spiral arms, first described by Gauthier et al. (2002) in the case of high aspect ratio. Stability curve and critical modes are measured for the whole range of aspect ratios. From the measurement of a local Reynolds number based on the shear layer thickness, evidence is given that a free shear layer instability, with only weak curvature effect, is responsible for the observed patterns. Accordingly, the number of vortices is shown to scale as the shear layer radius, which results from the competition between the centrifugal effects of each disk.