In a volume dealing with the solution and aggregation of macromolecules in water, lipids must have their place. Lipids (Greek: lipos = fat) consist of a wide and quickly expanding range of amphipathic or amphiphilic (Greek: amphi = dual; pathi = sympathy; phile = liking) and surface-active compounds which contain a polar and a relatively large nonpolar portion. Although the single lipid molecule is small compared with proteins and other macromolecules, lipids, as a result of their amphiphatic character, associate to large aggregates, both in the solid state as well as in the presence of water. The size of lipid aggregates, which ranges from that of small micelles (50–100 Å) to macroscopic structures (>10μm), depends on the nature of the lipid and the experimental conditions. In this review the accent will be placed on the aggregation of lipids and on the way in which water influences the behavior of these aggregated systems. It is to be hoped that the study of lipid systems and of the effects of water on these systems may also contribute to a better understanding of water itself.
KeywordsHydrocarbon Chain Hydration Shell Liquid Crystalline Phase Critical Micelle Concen Hydration Number
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