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Micelle facts for kids

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Phospholipids aqueous solution structures
Cross-section view of the structures that can be formed by phospholipids in aqueous solutions (unlike this illustration, micelles are usually formed by single-chain lipids, since it is difficult to fit two chains into this shape)

A micelle is a particular grouping of surfactant molecules, which are chemicals which have two ends that have different is hydrophobic (repells water) and the other hydrophilic (attracted to water.)

They have the hydrophobic elements are in the core of the molecule and hydrophilic on the surface.


When surfactants are present they can act as emulsifiers that will allow a compound that is normally insoluble (in the solvent being used) to dissolve.

The most common example of this phenomenon is detergents, which clean oils and waxes that cannot be removed by water alone. Detergents clean also by lowering the surface tension of water, making it easier to remove material from a surface.

Micelle formation is essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and complicated lipids within the human body. Bile salts formed in the liver and secreted by the gall bladder allow micelles of fatty acids to form. This allows the absorption of complicated lipids (e.g., lecithin) and lipid-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) within the micelle by the small intestine.

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