Crossflow-vortex-induced laminar breakdown in a three-dimensional flat-plate boundary-layer flow is investigated in detail by means of spatial direct numerical simulations. The base flow is generic for an infinite swept wing, with decreasing favourable chordwise pressure gradient. First, the downstream growth and nonlinear saturation states initiated by a crossflow-vortex-mode packet as well as by single crossflow-vortex modes with various spanwise wavenumbers are simulated. Second, the secondary instability of the flow induced by the saturated crossflow vortices is scrutinized, clearly indicating the convective nature of the secondary instability and strengthening knowledge of the conditions for its onset. Emphasis is on the effect of crossflow-vortex-mode packets and of the spanwise vortex spacing on the secondary stability properties of the saturation states. Saturated uniform crossflow vortices initiated by single crossflow-vortex modes turn out to be less unstable than vortices initiated by a packet of vortex modes, and closely spaced saturated vortices are even stable. Third, we investigate the transition control strategy of upstream flow deformation by appropriate steady nonlinear vortex modes as applied in wind tunnel experiments at the Arizona State University. A significant transition delay is shown in the base flow considered here, and the underlying mechanisms are specified.
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