Streaming by leaky surface acoustic waves

J. Vanneste, O. Bühler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Acoustic streaming, the generation of mean flow by dissipating acoustic waves, provides a promising method for flow pumping in microfluidic devices. In recent years, several groups have been experimenting with acoustic streaming induced by leaky surface waves: (Rayleigh) surface waves excited in a piezoelectric solid interact with a small volume of fluid where they generate acoustic waves and, as result of the viscous dissipation of these waves, a mean flow. We discuss the computation of the corresponding Lagrangian mean flow, which controls the trajectories of fluid particles and hence the mixing properties of the flows generated by this method. The problem is formulated using the averaged vorticity equation which extracts the dominant balance between wave dissipation and mean-flow dissipation. Particular attention is paid to the thin boundary layer that forms at the solid/liquid interface, where the flow is best computed using matched asymptotics. This leads to an explicit expression for a slip velocity, which includes the effect of the oscillations of the boundary. The Lagrangian mean flow is naturally separated into three contributions: An interior-driven Eulerian mean flow, a boundary-driven Eulerian mean flow and the Stokes drift. A scale analysis indicates that the latter two contributions can be neglected in devices much larger than the acoustic wavelength but need to be taken into account in smaller devices. A simple two-dimensional model of mean flow generation by surface acoustic waves is discussed as an illustration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1779-1800
Number of pages22
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2130
StatePublished - Jun 8 2011


  • Acoustic streaming
  • Micromixing
  • Wave-mean flow interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Mathematics
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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