Limiting shapes of confined lipid vesicles

Soft Matter. 2019 Jan 28;15(4):602-614. doi: 10.1039/c8sm01956h. Epub 2019 Jan 10.


We theoretically study the shapes of lipid vesicles confined to a spherical cavity, elaborating a framework based on the so-called limiting shapes constructed from geometrically simple structural elements such as double-membrane walls and edges. Partly inspired by numerical results, the proposed non-compartmentalized and compartmentalized limiting shapes are arranged in the bilayer-couple phase diagram which is then compared to its free-vesicle counterpart. We also compute the area-difference-elasticity phase diagram of the limiting shapes and we use it to interpret shape transitions experimentally observed in vesicles confined within another vesicle. The limiting-shape framework may be generalized to theoretically investigate the structure of certain cell organelles such as the mitochondrion.

MeSH terms

  • Elasticity
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry*
  • Mechanical Phenomena*
  • Models, Molecular


  • Lipid Bilayers