Research Topics

Below is a list of research topics supported by the AFRL. Use the filters and keyword search below to find research topics of interest. You can apply for up to 3 topics on your application.




Scholars are encouraged to contact any mentors whose projects they find of interest. To contact the mentor, use the link included at the conclusion of each project description.

Experimental Study of Three-Dimensional Compression Systems for High Speed Airbreathing Propulsion Applications (Arnold AFB, TN)
Mentor: Brian Elliot Rice, Aerospace Systems
Location: Arnold
Academic Level: Masters, Ph.D.

The High Speed Experimentation Branch at Arnold AFB is seeking a researcher with experience in the area of aeropropulsion integration. This focus area includes the study of aerodynamic phenomenon associate with inlets, isolators, and nozzles for high speed airbreathing propulsion systems. For hypersonic systems, inlet integration is critical in order to minimize vehicle drag while maximizing propulsive efficiency. As a result, the flow physics associated with high speed flowpaths is highly three-dimensional. Due to the three-dimensional nature, traditional wall static pressure taps and pitot rakes are often not adequate for capturing 3D flow structures where shocks and boundary layer separation are prevalent. Therefore, the research will focus on application of advanced optical diagnostics to further the understanding of 3D aerodynamics present in high speed inlets, isolators, and nozzles. The goal of the present research is to provide insight into inlet operability over a range of Mach-altitude conditions as well as isolator unstart. In addition, there is interest in methods for simulating representative distorted inlet flow fields for direct-connect isolator / scramjet facilities as well as distorted inflow profiles that enter idealized nozzle contours. The High Speed Experimentation Branch operates the newly reactivated Von Karman Facility (VKF) Wind Tunnel D which is a variable Mach (1.5-5) pressure-vacuum blowdown tunnel with a 12” x 12” test section. Available optical diagnostics include an 8-camera tomographic particle image velocimetry system, plenoptic imaging, high-speed schlieren, a pressure sensitive paint system, and a high speed stereo digital image correlation system.