On the bending algorithms for soft objects in flows

Abstract : One of the most challenging aspects in the accurate simulation of three-dimensional soft objects such as vesicles or biological cells is the computation of membrane bending forces. The origin of this difficulty stems from the need to numerically evaluate a fourth order derivative on the discretized surface geometry. Here we investigate six different algorithms to compute membrane bending forces, including regularly used methods as well as novel ones. All are based on the same physical model (due to Canham and Helfrich) and start from a surface discretization with flat triangles. At the same time, they differ substantially in their numerical approach. We start by comparing the numerically obtained mean curvature, the Laplace-Beltrami operator of the mean curvature and finally the surface force density to analytical results for the discocyte resting shape of a red blood cell. We find that none of the considered algorithms converges to zero error at all nodes and that for some algorithms the error even diverges. There is furthermore a pronounced influence of the mesh structure: Discretizations with more irregular triangles and node connectivity present serious difficulties for most investigated methods. To assess the behavior of the algorithms in a realistic physical application, we investigate the deformation of an initially spherical capsule in a linear shear flow at small Reynolds numbers. To exclude any influence of the flow solver, two conceptually very different solvers are employed: the Lattice-Boltzmann and the Boundary Integral Method. Despite the largely different quality of the bending algorithms when applied to the static red blood cell, we find that in the actual flow situation most algorithms give consistent results for both hydrodynamic solvers. Even so, a short review of earlier works reveals a wide scattering of reported results for, e.g., the Taylor deformation parameter. Besides the presented application to biofluidic systems, the investigated algorithms are also of high relevance to the computer graphics and numerical mathematics communities.
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Achim Guckenberger, Marcel P. Schrame, Paul G. Chen, Marc Leonetti, Stephan Gekle. On the bending algorithms for soft objects in flows. Computer Physics Communications, Elsevier, 2016, 207, pp.1-23. 〈10.1016/j.cpc.2016.04.018〉. 〈hal-01314722〉

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