Stokesian jellyfish: viscous locomotion of bilayer vesicles

Arthur A. Evans, Saverio E. Spagnolie, Eric Lauga
2010 Soft Matter  
Motivated by recent advances in vesicle engineering, we consider theoretically the locomotion of shape-changing bilayer vesicles at low Reynolds number. By modulating their volume and membrane composition, the vesicles can be made to change shape quasi-statically in thermal equilibrium. When the control parameters are tuned appropriately to yield periodic shape changes which are not time-reversible, the result is a net swimming motion over one cycle of shape deformation. For two classical
more » ... e models (spontaneous curvature and bilayer coupling), we determine numerically the sequence of vesicle shapes through an enthalpy minimization, as well as the fluid-body interactions by solving a boundary integral formulation of the Stokes equations. For both models, net locomotion can be obtained either by continuously modulating fore-aft asymmetric vesicle shapes, or by crossing a continuous shape-transition region and alternating between fore-aft asymmetric and fore-aft symmetric shapes. The obtained hydrodynamic efficiencies are similar to that of other low Reynolds number biological swimmers, and suggest that shape-changing vesicles might provide an alternative to flagella-based synthetic microswimmers.
doi:10.1039/b924548k fatcat:q6lnwijdx5fxlh2v6oeb6osj4q