Nonlinear Transient and Steady State Stretching of Deflated Vesicles in Flow

Dinesh Kumar, Charles M. Schroeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Membrane-bound vesicles and organelles exhibit a wide array of nonspherical shapes at equilibrium, including biconcave and tubular morphologies. Despite recent progress, the stretching dynamics of deflated vesicles is not fully understood, particularly far from equilibrium where complex nonspherical shapes undergo large deformations in flow. Here, we directly observe the transient and steady-state nonlinear stretching dynamics of deflated vesicles in extensional flow using a Stokes trap. Automated flow control is used to observe vesicle dynamics over a wide range of flow rates, shape anisotropy, and viscosity contrast. Our results show that deflated vesicle membranes stretch into highly deformed shapes in flow above a critical capillary number Cac1. We further identify a second critical capillary number Cac2, above which vesicle stretch diverges in flow. Vesicles are robust to multiple nonlinear stretch-relax cycles, evidenced by relaxation of dumbbell-shaped vesicles containing thin lipid tethers following flow cessation. An analytical model is developed for vesicle deformation in flow, which enables comparison of nonlinear steady-state stretching results with theories for different reduced volumes. Our results show that the model captures the steady-state stretching of moderately deflated vesicles; however, it underpredicts the steady-state nonlinear stretching of highly deflated vesicles. Overall, these results provide a new understanding of the nonlinear stretching dynamics and membrane mechanics of deflated vesicles in flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13976-13984
Number of pages9
Issue number48
StatePublished - Dec 7 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Spectroscopy
  • General Materials Science
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Electrochemistry


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