Using a microfluidic trap, we study the behavior of individual phospholipid vesicles in contact with fatty acids. We show that spontaneous fatty acids insertion inside the bilayer is controlled by the vesicle size, osmotic pressure difference across the membrane and fatty acids concentration in the external bath. Depending on these parameters, vesicles can grow spherically or become unstable and fragment into several daughter vesicles. We establish the phase diagram for vesicle growth and we derive a simple thermodynamic model that reproduces the time evolution of the vesicle volume. Finally, we show that stable growth can be achieved on an artificial cell expressing a simple set of bacterial cytoskeletal proteins, paving the way toward artificial cell reproduction.
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© 2017, Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany.