Damping is an influence within or upon an oscillatory system that has the effect of reducing, restricting or preventing its oscillations. In physical systems, damping is produced by processes that dissipate the energy stored in the oscillation. Examples include viscous drag in mechanical systems, resistance in electronic oscillators, and absorption and scattering of light in optical oscillators. Damping not based on energy loss can be important in other oscillating systems such as those that occur in biological systems and bikes.
The damping ratio is a dimensionless measure describing how oscillations in a system decay after a disturbance. Many systems exhibit oscillatory behavior when they are disturbed from their position of static equilibrium. A mass suspended from a spring, for example, might, if pulled and released, bounce up and down. On each bounce, the system tends to return to its equilibrium position, but overshoots it. Sometimes losses (e.g. frictional) damp the system and can cause the oscillations to gradually decay in amplitude towards zero or attenuate. The damping ratio is a measure describing how rapidly the oscillations decay from one bounce to the next.
The damping ratio is a system parameter, denoted by ? (zeta), that can vary from undamped , underdamped through critically damped to overdamped .
The behaviour of oscillating systems is often of interest in a diverse range of disciplines that include control engineering, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, structural engineering, and electrical engineering. The physical quantity that is oscillating varies greatly, and could be the swaying of a tall building in the wind, or the speed of an electric motor, but a normalised, or non-dimensionalised approach can be convenient in describing common aspects of behavior.
Depending on the amount of damping present, a system exhibits different oscillatory behaviors.
The damping ratio is a parameter, usually denoted by ? (zeta), that characterizes the frequency response of a second-order ordinary differential equation. It is particularly important in the study of control theory. It is also important in the harmonic oscillator.
The damping ratio provides a mathematical means of expressing the level of damping in a system relative to critical damping. For a damped harmonic oscillator with mass m, damping coefficient c, and spring constant k, it can be defined as the ratio of the damping coefficient in the system's differential equation to the critical damping coefficient:
where the system's equation of motion is
and the corresponding critical damping coefficient is
The damping ratio is dimensionless, being the ratio of two coefficients of identical units.
Using the natural frequency of a harmonic oscillator and the definition of the damping ratio above, we can rewrite this as:
This equation can be solved with the approach.
where C and s are both complex constants, with s satisfying
Two such solutions, for the two values of s satisfying the equation, can be combined to make the general real solutions, with oscillatory and decaying properties in several regimes:
When a second-order system has (that is, when the system is underdamped), it has two complex conjugate poles that each have a real part of ; that is, the decay rate parameter represents the rate of exponential decay of the oscillations. A lower damping ratio implies a lower decay rate, and so very underdamped systems oscillate for long times. For example, a high quality tuning fork, which has a very low damping ratio, has an oscillation that lasts a long time, decaying very slowly after being struck by a hammer.
For underdamped vibrations, the damping ratio is also related to the logarithmic decrement via the relation
where and are the vibration amplitudes at two successive peaks of the decaying vibration.
damped, which is the term used in the study of vibration to denote a dissipation of energy
lean and steer perturbations die away in a seemingly damped fashion. However, the system has no true damping and conserves energy. The energy in the lean and steer oscillations is transferred to the forward speed rather than being dissipated.