Deformation of an elastic cell in a uniform stream and in a circulatory flow

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The deformation of a circular, inextensible elastic cell is examined when the cell is placed into two different background potential flows: a uniform stream and a circulatory flow induced by a point vortex located inside the cell. In a circulatory flow a cell may deform into a mode m shape with m-fold rotational symmetry. In a uniform stream, shapes with two-fold rotational symmetry tend to be selected. In a weak stream a cell deforms linearly into an ellipse with either its major or its minor axis aligned with the oncoming flow. This marks an interesting difference with a bubble with constant surface tension in a uniform stream, which can only deform into a mode 2 shape with its major axis perpendicular to the stream (Vanden-Broeck & Keller, 1980b). In general, as the strength of the uniform stream is increased from zero, solutions emerge continuously from the cell configurations in quiescent fluid found by Flaherty et al. (1972). A richly populated solution space is described with multiple solution branches which either terminate when a cell reaches a state with a point of self-contact or loop round to continuously connect cell states which exist under identical conditions in the absence of flow.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)665-684
Number of pages20
JournalIMA Journal of Applied Mathematics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2013


  • inviscid flow
  • fluid-structure interaction
  • elastic cell

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