Micelle

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Revision as of 02:16, 29 September 2009 by Bonificio (Talk | contribs) (Applications)

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Definition

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.

Applications

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.

Future Applications

A research group in Korea is attempting to make a nano sized equivalent to velcro. They have produced and published a paper called Shape-Tunable Polymer Nanofibrillar Structures by Oblique Electron Beam Irradiation that discusses their research.

References

http://www.velcro.com/