An efficient numerical method for vesicle simulations

Applied and Computational Mathematics Seminar
Monday, October 27, 2008 - 13:00
1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Skiles 255
CSE, Georgia Tech
Fluid membranes are area-preserving interfaces that resist bending. They are models of cell membranes, intracellular organelles, and viral particles. We are interested in developing simulation tools for dilute suspensions of deformable vesicles. These tools should be computationally efficient, that is, they should scale well as the number of vesicles increases. For very low Reynolds numbers, as it is often the case in mesoscopic length scales, the Stokes approximation can be used for the background fluid. We use a boundary integral formulation for the fluid that results in a set of nonlinear integro-differential equations for the vesicle dynamics. The motion of the vesicles is determined by balancing the nonlocal hydrodynamic forces with the elastic forces due to bending and tension. Numerical simulations of such vesicle motions are quite challenging. On one hand, explicit time-stepping schemes suffer from a severe stability constraint due to the stiffness related to high-order spatial derivatives and a milder constraint due to a transport-like stability condition. On the other hand, an implicit scheme can be expensive because it requires the solution of a set of nonlinear equations at each time step. We present two semi-implicit schemes that circumvent the severe stability constraints on the time step and whose computational cost per time step is comparable to that of an explicit scheme. We discretize the equations by using a spectral method in space, and a multistep third-order accurate scheme in time. We use the fast multipole method to efficiently compute vesicle-vesicle interaction forces in a suspension with a large number of vesicles. We report results from numerical experiments that demonstrate the convergence and algorithmic complexity properties of our scheme. Joint work with: Shravan K. Veerapaneni, Denis Gueyffier, and Denis Zorin.