Date of Award

Summer 1998

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering

Committee Director

Ponnampalam Balakumar

Committee Member

Robert L. Ash

Committee Member

Colin P. Britcher

Committee Member

Chester Grosch


The linear and nonlinear evolution of steady and traveling disturbances in three-dimensional incompressible boundary layer flows is studied using Parabolized Stability Equations (PSE). Extensive primary stability analyses for the model problems of Swept Hiemenz flow and the DLR Transition experiment on a swept flat plate are performed first. Second, and building upon these results, detailed secondary instability studies based on both the classical Floquet Theory and a novel approach that uses the nonlinear PSE are conducted. The investigations reveal a connection of unstable secondary eigenvalues to both the linear eigenvalue spectrum of the undisturbed mean flow and the continuous spectrum, as well as the existence of an absolute instability in the region of nonlinear amplitude saturation. Third, a passive technique for boundary layer transition control using leading edge roughness is examined utilizing a newly developed implicit solution method for the nonlinear PSE. The results confirm experimental observations and indicate possible means of delaying transition on swept wings.

In the present work, both the solution of the boundary layer equations for the mean flow and the explicit PSE solver are based on a fourth-order-accurate compact scheme formulation in body-oriented coordinates. In the secondary instability analysis, the Implicitly Restarted Arnoldi Method is applied.