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Swinging and tumbling of elastic capsules in shear flow

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 May 2008

II. Institut für Theoretische Physik, Universität Stuttgart, 70550 Stuttgart, Germany
II. Institut für Theoretische Physik, Universität Stuttgart, 70550 Stuttgart, Germany
II. Institut für Theoretische Physik, Universität Stuttgart, 70550 Stuttgart, Germany


The deformation of an elastic micro-capsule in an infinite shear flow is studied numerically using a spectral method. The shape of the capsule and the hydrodynamic flow field are expanded into smooth basis functions. Analytic expressions for the derivative of the basis functions permit the evaluation of elastic and hydrodynamic stresses and bending forces at specified grid points in the membrane. Compared to methods employing a triangulation scheme, this method has the advantage that the resulting capsule shapes are automatically smooth, and few modes are needed to describe the deformation accurately. Computations are performed for capsules with both spherical and ellipsoidal unstressed reference shape. Results for small deformations of initially spherical capsules coincide with analytic predictions. For initially ellipsoidal capsules, recent approximate theories predict stable oscillations of the tank-treading inclination angle, and a transition to tumbling at low shear rate. Both phenomena have also been observed experimentally. Using our numerical approach we can reproduce both the oscillations and the transition to tumbling. The full phase diagram for varying shear rate and viscosity ratio is explored. While the numerically obtained phase diagram qualitatively agrees with the theory, intermittent behaviour could not be observed within our simulation time. Our results suggest that initial tumbling motion is only transient in this region of the phase diagram.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

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