The dynamics of giant lipid vesicles under shear flow is experimentally investigated. Consistent with previous theoretical and numerical studies, two flow regimes are identified depending on the viscosity ratio between the interior and the exterior of the vesicle, and its reduced volume or excess surface. At low viscosity ratios, a tank-treading motion of the membrane takes place, the vesicle assuming a constant orientation with respect to the flow direction. At higher viscosity ratios, a tumbling motion is observed in which the whole vesicle rotates with a periodically modulated velocity. When the shear rate increases, this tumbling motion becomes increasingly sensitive to vesicle deformation due to the elongational component of the flow and significant deviations from simpler models are observed. A good characterization of these various flow regimes is essential for the validation of analytical and numerical models, and to relate microscopic dynamics to macroscopic rheology of suspensions of deformable particles, such as blood.
47.15.G- Low-Reynolds-number (creeping) flows 87.16.Dg Membranes, bilayers, and vesicles
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