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Geometry and dynamics of lipid membranes: The Scriven-Love number


The equations governing lipid membrane dynamics in planar, spherical, and cylindrical geometries are presented here. Unperturbed and first-order perturbed equations are determined and nondimensionalized. In membrane systems with a nonzero base flow, perturbed in-plane and out-of-plane quantities are found to vary over different length scales. A new dimensionless number, named the Scriven-Love number, and the well-known Föppl-von Kármán number result from a scaling analysis. The Scriven-Love number compares out-of-plane forces arising from the in-plane, intramembrane viscous stresses to the familiar elastic bending forces, while the Föppl-von Kármán number compares tension to bending forces. Both numbers are calculated in past experimental works, and span a wide range of values in various biological processes across different geometries. In situations with large Scriven-Love and Föppl-von Kármán numbers, the dynamical response of a perturbed membrane is dominated by out-of-plane viscous and surface tension forces-with bending forces playing a negligible role. Calculations of non-negligible Scriven-Love numbers in various biological processes and in vitro experiments show in-plane intramembrane viscous flows cannot generally be ignored when analyzing lipid membrane behavior.

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