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Example of micelle structure compared to a liposome and a lipid bilayer sheet.

A micelle is the self assembled sphere formed from surfactants in a hydrophilic liquid such as water. It is formed when surfactant hydrocarbons that have a hydrophilic charged head group and a long hydrophobic tail aggregate. The hydrophobic tails are attracted to each other and try to get out of their hydrophilic environment by bunching up. This leaves the hydrophobic heads pointing outwards where they are content in their environment. Micelles are often spherical, however they can be elliptical as well. Concentration, molecular structure, ionic strength, temperature, and pH, among other variables, all contribute to the geometry of the micelle formed.


Micelles have various applications, that are similar to the applications of surfactants. In biology, they are essential for dissolving any fats, or fat soluble vitamins in the body. Also, they are used in detergents to help cut away grease, again using their dissolving properties.

Reverse Micelles

Reverse micelles are the opposite of typical micelles - they form in a hydrophobic environment. These micelles have the hydrophilic heads aggregating in the center of the sphere, with the hydrophobic tailes pointing outwards. These micelle are used to form miniature test tubes because they create a nanoscale hydrophilic environment at their center where reactions can occur. One application of these is the formation of quantum dots at the center of these reverse micelles.



Keyword in references:

Irreversible nanogel formation in surfactant solutions by microporous flow

Order–disorder transition induced by surfactant micelles in single-walled carbon nanotubes dispersions

Liquid-infused structured surfaces with exceptional anti-biofouling performance

Liquid-Infused Nanostructured Surfaces with Extreme Anti-Ice and Anti-Frost Performance

Gravitational Stability of Suspensions of Attractive Colloidal Particles

Control of Shape and Size of Nanopillar Assembly by Adhesion-Mediated Elastocapillary Interaction

Shock-driven jamming and periodic fracture of particulate rafts

Surfactant-Assisted Synthesis of Uniform Titania Microspheres and Their Clusters

Cationic liposome–microtubule complexes: Pathways to the formation of two-state lipid–protein nanotubes with open or closed ends

Velocity Profiles in Repulsive Athermal Systems under Shear

Molecular Simulations of the Fluctuating Conformational Dynamics of Intrinsically Disordered Proteins

New directions in mechanics

Yielding and Flow of Monodisperse Emulsions

Swollen Vesicles and Multiple Emulsions from Block Copolymers

Spontaneous Formation of Lipid Structures at Oil/Water/Lipid Interfaces

Production of Unilamellar Vesicles Using an Inverted Emulsion

Double Emulsion Droplets as Microreactors for Synthesis of Mesoporous Hydroxyapatite

Microfluidic Fabrication of Monodisperse Biocompatible and Biodegradable Polymersomes with Controlled Permeability

Arrested Coalescence of Particle-coated Droplets into Nonspherical Supracolloidal Structures

Fabrication of Monodisperse Toroidal Particles by Polymer Solidification in Microfluidics

Universal behavior of the osmotically compressed cell and its analogy to the colloidal glass transition Surface Energy as a Barrier to Creasing of Elastomer Films: An Elastic Analogy to Classical Nucleation

Novel Colloidal Interactions in Anisotropic Fluids

Surfactant-Mediated Two-Dimensional Crystallization of Colloidal Crystals

Universal non-diffusive slow dynamics in aging soft matter

Inverted and multiple nematic emulsions

Osmotic pressure and viscoelastic shear moduli of concentrated emulsions

Bacillus subtilis spreads by surfing on waves of surfactant

Structure of adhesive emulsions

Droplet-Based Microfluidics for Emulsion and Solvent Evaporation Synthesis of Monodisperse Mesoporous Silica Microspheres

Rheology of attractive emulsions

Assembly of Binary Colloidal Structures via Specific Biological Adhesion

Rheology of Binary Colloidal Structures Assembled via Specific Biological Cross-Linking

Biocompatible surfactants for water-in-fluorocarbon emulsions

Colloid Surfactants for Emulsion Stabilization

Gravitational Stability of Suspensions of Attractive Colloidal Particles

Surface roughness directed self-assembly of patchy particles into colloidal micelles