Electrohydrodynamics of drops and vesicles

Petia M. Vlahovska*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


The 1969 review by J.R. Melcher and G.I. Taylor defined the field of electrohydrodynamics. Fifty years on, the interaction of weakly conducting (leaky dielectric) fluids with electric fields continues to yield intriguing phenomena. The prototypical system of a drop in a uniform electric field has revealed remarkable dynamics in strong electric fields such as symmetry-breaking instabilities (e.g., Quincke rotation) and streaming from the drop equator. This review summarizes recent experimental and theoretical studies in the area of fluid particles (drop and vesicles) in electric fields, with a focus on the transient dynamics and extreme deformations. A theoretical framework to treat the time evolution of nearly spherical shapes is provided. The model has been successful in describing the dynamics of vesicles (closed lipid membranes) in an electric field, highlighting the broader range of applicability of the leaky dielectric approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-330
Number of pages26
JournalAnnual Review of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Jan 5 2019


  • Quincke
  • Stokes flow
  • electrohydrodynamics
  • electroporation
  • electrorheology
  • electrorotation
  • instability
  • streaming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics


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