Research Themes‎ > ‎

Breuer Research

Our group covers a wide range of topics, ranging from nanometer fluid physics to fully turbulent flows.  

Micron and Nanometer scale fluid mechanics:

Fluids behave in different and interesting ways when they are confined to very small systems. Some of our current projects include the breakdown of the no-slip boundary condition, the behavior of small particles, molecules and cells near solid surfaces, The formation andy dynamics of micron-scale droplets on surfaces,  the flows associated with moving contact lines, and droplet streams generated by electrosprays.

For more details on our microfluidics research, click here

Bacterial and Flagellar Mechanics: 

We are studying how flagellated bacteria move, how their flagella deform, coordinate, bundle and syncrhonize in viscous flows, how bacteria can be used to enhance mixing and generate pumping in microgeometries. 

Bat Flight Mechanics: 

In collaboration with Sharon Swartz in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, we are studying the mechanics of bats and the ways in which their unique morphology enables their extraordinary flight performance. We take high speed video, particle image velocimetry of the wake behind the bats during flight, detailed measurements of physical models that capture key features of bat flight.

For more details on our bat flight research, click here.

Diagnostic Techniques for Fluid Mechanics: 

We are developing innovative techniques for the measurement of fluid phenomena, including the use of evanescent wave illuminationfor ultra-near-wall 3D velocimetry, displaced laser sheet systems for vortex flows, the use of  quantum dots as nanoscale tracer particles for both velocity and temperature measurements. 

Turbulent shear flows and drag reduction:

We make high resolution measurements of turbulent flows over novel surfaces (e.g. ultrahydrophobic surfaces), and with active forcing (Lorentz forces or using feedforward control) to determine the effects on turbulent structure and hydrodynamic drag.


Research in Kenny Breuer's lab uses a variety of facilities.  At the large-scale, we operate two low-speed wind tunnels.  The first is a conventional low-speed aerodynamics tunnel with a 60x60 (cm) test section, while the second is a slightly larger 100 x60 (cm) wind tunnel that has been specially modified to allow for animal flight experiments (including a bio-safety level 2 testing room which enables us to work with animals  that are potentially infectious).

At the micron-scale, we operate two facilities with vibration-damped optical tables housing two inverted  stage Nikon microscopes, both with motorized stages, condensers, epiflourescent optics and a complement of objectives.  

Instrumentation used in the lab includes a variety of lasers (Nd:YAG pulsed, Ar-Ion CW, and Diode) for illumination, spectroscopy, Particle tracking, etc.  We alkso use a variety of cameras ranging from cooled CCD cameras (IDT, Q-Imaging), intensified CCD cameras (Q-Imaging), High speed CMOS (Photron) and a high-speed image intensified system (Hammamatsu & Photron).  Other specialized instrumentation includes hot-wire anemometers, laser-profilometer, load cell systems, etc. 

Supporting systems include networked computers (including access to a massively parallel supercomputer facility at the Center for Computing and Visualization), shared micro-fabrication, machine shop and rapid-prototyping facilities.