Hydrodynamic pairing of soft particles in a confined flow
AbstractThe mechanism of hydrodynamics-induced pairing of soft particles, namely closed bilayer membranes (vesicles, a model system for red blood cells) and drops, is studied numerically with a special attention paid to the role of the confinement (the particles are within two rigid walls). This study unveils the complexity of the pairing mechanism due to hydrodynamic interactions. We find both for vesicles and for drops that two particles attract each other and form a stable pair at weak confinement if their initial separation is below a certain value. If the initial separation is beyond that distance, the particles repel each other and adopt a longer stable interdistance. This means that for the same confinement we have (at least) two stable branches. To which branch a pair of particles relaxes with time depends only on the initial configuration. An unstable branch is found between these two stable branches. At a critical confinement the stable branch corresponding to the shortest interdistance merges with the unstable branch in the form of a saddle-node bifurcation. At this critical confinement we have a finite jump from a solution corresponding to the continuation of the unbounded case to a solution which is induced by the presence of walls. The results are summarized in a phase diagram, which proves to be of a complex nature. The fact that both vesicles and drops have the same qualitative phase diagram points to the existence of a universal behavior, highlighting the fact that with regard to pairing the details of mechanical properties of the deformable particles are unimportant. This offers an interesting perspective for simple analytical modeling.