Founded in 2003, the Laboratory for Biomechanics of Animal Locomotion (BALL) addresses itself to the research on biomechanics and bionics of the flying and swimming animals, such as insects, bats, fish and dolphins. The interaction between the animal’s flexible physical bodies and the surrounding fluid (air or water) can generate the forces which are needed in its locomotion. The high performance of animal locomotion is magic and interesting, with that more and more researchers and students fall in study. The subjects involve not only the fluid dynamics, but also the motor nerve, muscle mechanics, structure dynamics, mechanical constitutive relations of biomaterials et al.

The research on fish swimming in this lab can be traced back to the 1980s. The group, led by Professor TONG Bing-Gang, developed the three-dimensional waving plate theory to investigate the swimming performance of fish undulatory motion. The three-dimensional effects, considered firstly following Lighthill’s classical elongated body theory and T.Y. Wu’s 2D waving plate, can be reduced by the undulatory motion. This work was cited around the world, and it has been reviewed in Triantafyllou’s paper (Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, 2000).

By the turn of the century, Professor TONG organized an effective research team in the biomechanics, including his group and the big mechanical engineering group in the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC). In this team, the materials and methods, including in vivo visualization of experiments, model experiments, numerical simulation and theoretical modeling, has been developed systematicly. The interactional exchange is frequent day by day.

In 2003, the Laboratory for Biomechanics of Animal Locomotion was founded in the Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Sciences. In the same year, the team prepared and organized the 214th XiangShan-Science Conference – “Biomechanics and Bionics of flying and swimming animals”. Prof. TONG’s principal speech, as one of the two keynote speeches, and the other 5 special reports from this team were the part of total 19 reports in this conference. The team has been supported by 2 and 2 long-term funded projects from the National Science Funding of China (NSFC) and Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) respectively.

In the recent paper(Ann. Rev. Fluid Mech., 2011), T.Y. Wu’s reviewed the 7 papers, published by Prof. TONG and his PH.D students. in which the paper on theoretical modeling has been regarded as one of four representative articles for insect flapping flight under large angles of attack. He also has mentioned their in-house numerical platform two times, which coupled the deformable body dynamics and the fluid dynamics and successfully used in the study of free fish swimming.

The laboratory now is equipped with a set of high performance parallel computing cluster (160 CPU) and a circulating water channel, which can help the lab members to work on theoretical modeling, numerical studies and small experiments.

Welcome to the laboratory for biomechanics of animal locomotion.