Nonlinear dynamics of unilaterally constrained gyroscopic systems

The aim of the project is an in-depth analysis of instability phenomena caused by the interplay of gyroscopic effects and frictional contact.

Gyroscopic effects play an important role in technical applications such as satellites, aircrafts and wind energy converters. 

However, gyroscopic effects which are induced or interacting with frictional contact are not well understood. Several mathematical problems are actively being studied in the scientific literature, i.e. the Euler disc, the tippetop, the Rattleback and the spinning egg problem. These systems serve as mechanical-mathematical archetypes for several friction induced instability phenomena of three dimensional moving bodies in contact with a supporting hyperplane. In particular, the tippetop demonstrates an inverting motion causing the top to rotate on its stem.

Figure 1.1 Tippetop
Figure 1.1 Tippetop

The tippetop is a rotationally symmetric top which consists of a spherical body with a stick attached to it (Figure 1.1). If the top is at rest then the stick points vertically upward, such that the geometric center of the sphere is higher than the center of gravity. If the top is spun fast enough, then this equilibrium position becomes unstable due to friction induced gyroscopic forces. The toy top slowly inverts its orientation and seeks its inverted equilibrium.


In this project we introduce the “tippedisc” as a new archetype for the study of instability phenomena of three dimensional rigid body systems interacting with a frictional support. We call a “tippedisc” a spinning object, consisting of a thin disc for which the center of mass does not coincide with its geometric center, rotating around an in-plane axis. Similar to the tippetop, the tippedisc finds an inverted orientation when spun rapidly (see video). However, in contrast to the tippetop, the tippedisc does not rotate around an axis of symmetry. Moreover, the contact kinematics of the tippedisc is more complicated.

We aim to conduct a rigorous stability analysis of the tippedisc. The results of the analysis will be validated numerically and experimentally. Hereto, a proper model will be developed, which can handle unilateral contact and set-valued friction laws. The solutions of the numerical model will be compared with experimental data, which comes from 3D Motion Tracking.

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Journal Publications

Sailer, S., Eugster, S.R. and Leine R.I.:”The Tippedisk: a Tippetop Without Rotational Symmetry“, Regular and Chaotic Dynamics, Vol. 25(6), pp. 553-580, 2020.  PDF, Link


Dieses Bild zeigt  Remco I. Leine
Prof. Dr. ir. habil.

Remco I. Leine


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