Published online by Cambridge University Press: 15 October 2021
Shock-tube experiments on eight kinds of two-dimensional multi-mode air–SF$_6$ interface with controllable initial conditions are performed to examine the dependence of perturbation growth on initial spectra. We deduce and demonstrate experimentally that the amplitude development of each mode is influenced by the mode-competition effect from quasi-linear stages. It is confirmed that the mode-competition effect is closely related to initial spectra, including the wavenumber, the phase and the initial amplitude of constituent modes. By considering both the mode-competition effect and the high-order harmonics effect, a nonlinear model is established based on initial spectra to predict the amplitude growth of each individual mode. The nonlinear model is validated by the present experiments and data in the literature by considering diverse initial spectra, shock intensities and density ratios. Moreover, the nonlinear model is successfully extended based on the superposition principle to predict the growths of the total perturbation width and the bubble/spike width from quasi-linear to nonlinear stages.