Vesicles are microscopic objects only visible under a special microscope. They are used in pharmacology, cosmetology, but the laws which govern their existence are the same as those which allow the recovery of deeply buried oil or which avoids paints to settle down at the bottom of the can.

Would not it be all these applications of the physics of membranes, vesicles are worth looking at for their incredibly rich equilibrium shapes. We focused our experimental and theoretical work on the study of vesicles of non-trivial topologies, to which we have not yet been able to find any application, but which have led to new insights into the mathematical essence of Nature...

This document presents a detailed description of our theoretical and experimental work on vesicles. As an introduction, we recall some basic concepts of the physics of fluid membranes, as well as former work. Our observations and numerical calculations of the shapes of toroidal vesicles are then described, followed by our results on vesicles with two or more holes, with emphasis put on the observation of the so-called conformal diffusion phenomenon and its theoretical counterpart. We conclude this presentation with our experimental and theoretical description of giant fluctuations in high topological genus vesicles and a short list of other parts of our work on vesicles.

page realised by Xavier Michalet last revised: september 16th,1997