Nonlinearity 2015 Mar;28(3):773-793
University of California, Irvine, CA, USA.
Vesicles are membrane-bound structures commonly known for their roles in cellular transport and the shape of a vesicle is determined by its surrounding membrane (lipid bilayer). When the membrane is composed of different lipids, it is natural for the lipids of similar molecular structure to migrate towards one another (via spinodal decomposition), creating a multi-phase vesicle. In this article, we consider a two-phase vesicle model which is driven by nature's propensity to maintain a minimal state of elastic energy. The model assumes a continuum limit, thereby treating the membrane as a closed three-dimensional surface. The main purpose of this study is to reveal the complexity of the Helfrich two-phase vesicle model with non-zero spontaneous curvature and provide further evidence to support the relevance of spontaneous curvature as a modelling parameter. In this paper, we illustrate the complexity of the Helfrich two-phase model by providing multiple examples of undocumented solutions and energy hysteresis. We also investigate the influence of spontaneous curvature on morphological effects and membrane phenomena such as budding and fusion.