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An adaptive finite element method for the modeling of the equilibrium of red blood cells

Aymen Laadhari, Pierre Saramito and Chaouqi Misbah
International Journal for Numerical Methods in Fluids, doi: 10.1002/fld.4086
Vol. 80, No. 7, pp. 397–428, March 2016


This contribution is concerned with the numerical modeling of an isolated red blood cell (RBC), and more generally of phospholipid membranes. We propose an adaptive Eulerian finite element approximation, based on the level set method, of a shape optimization problem arising in the study of RBCs. We simulate the equilibrium shapes that minimize the elastic bending energy under prescribed constraints of fixed volume and surface area. An anisotropic mesh adaptation technique is used in the vicinity of the cell membrane to enhance the robustness of the method. Efficient time and spatial discretizations are considered and implemented. We address in detail the main features of the proposed method, and finally we report several numerical experiments in the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional axisymmetric cases. The effectiveness of the numerical method is further demonstrated through numerical comparisons with semi-analytical solutions provided by a reduced order model.

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  author = {Aymen Laadhari and Pierre Saramito and Chaouqi Misbah},
  title = {An adaptive finite element method for the modeling of the equilibrium of red blood cells},
  journal = {International Journal for Numerical Methods in Fluids, doi: 10.1002/fld.4086},
  year = {2016},
  month = {March},
  pages = {397–428},
  volume = {80},
  number = {7},
  keywords = {finite element method; shape optimisation; adaptive mesh refinement; minimisation under constraints; shape optimization; red blood cell; Canham–Helfrich model}