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Breakage of vesicles in a simple shear flow

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The breakage of micron-size SOPC lipid vesicles in an aqueous suspension was studied in a simple shear flow over a range of shear rates (1000 s−1 to 4000 s−1). Evolution of the vesicle size distribution with time was determined using optical microscopy. The number average vesicle diameter was found to reduce continuously with time; at the highest shear rate (4000 s−1), the reduction was 38% after 6 h of shearing. The distributions indicated the existence of a critical diameter such that the number of vesicles larger than the critical diameter decreased and vesicles smaller than the critical diameter increased. The capillary number for the system (ratio of the characteristic viscous stress to the characteristic stress for stretching the lipid membrane) was two orders of magnitude lower than the values reported for breakage in an ultrasonically generated flow, indicating that vesicles do not rupture due to lysis of the membrane. Direct observation of the process in a shear cell fitted in a microscope stage revealed the mechanism of rupture. Measurements of the vesicle dimensions indicated an increase in aspect ratio with time as a result of leakage of fluid from inside vesicles. Once the aspect ratio increased above a threshold value, the vesicles elongated into long thread-like shapes, which broke into small daughter vesicles by pearling.

Graphical abstract: Breakage of vesicles in a simple shear flow

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Publication details

The article was received on 22 Jul 2018, accepted on 25 Jan 2019 and first published on 28 Jan 2019

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8SM01501E
Citation: Soft Matter, 2019, Advance Article

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    Breakage of vesicles in a simple shear flow

    A. Pal and D. V. Khakhar, Soft Matter, 2019, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C8SM01501E

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