Microfluidics has enabled a revolution in the manipulation of small volumes of fluids. Controlling flows at larger scales and faster rates, or macrofluidics, has broad applications but involves the unique complexities of inertial flow physics. We show how such effects are exploited in a device proposed by Nikola Tesla that acts as a diode or valve whose asymmetric internal geometry leads to direction-dependent fluidic resistance. Systematic tests for steady forcing conditions reveal that diodicity turns on abruptly at Reynolds number Re ≈ 200 and is accompanied by nonlinear pressure-flux scaling and flow instabilities, suggesting a laminar-to-turbulent transition that is triggered at unusually low Re. To assess performance for unsteady forcing, we devise a circuit that functions as an AC-to-DC converter, rectifier, or pump in which diodes transform imposed oscillations into directed flow. Our results confirm Tesla’s conjecture that diodic performance is boosted for pulsatile flows. The connections between diodicity, early turbulence and pulsatility uncovered here can inform applications in fluidic mixing and pumping.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)