Effect of multi-modal initial conditions on Rayleigh-Taylor instability (RTI) was experimentally studied at Texas A&M University. Precisely controllable initial conditions were generated using a flapper mechanism at the interface of two unstably stratified convective water streams with a temperature difference of about 7–8°C corresponding to Atwood numbers of the order of 10−3. By selecting input initial wavelengths and phase angles, a parametric study was performed to study the initial growth stages of this instability and mixing behavior. Using a servo controlled flapper mechanism and high resolution thermocouples, the quality and quantity of total and molecular mixing is studied. The topology of the characteristic bubble and spike structures in the initial mixing stages was recorded using high-resolution imaging. Density measurements using thermocouple measurements were performed at two downstream locations from the splitter plate, x/H = 0.077 and x/H = 0.908, where H is the total height of the Water Channel. Molecular mixing patterns due to single, binary and multi-mode initial conditions are extracted from density data.

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