BO VEISLAND / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY BO VEISLAND / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Phospholipids in a membrane. Computer artwork showing a row of phospholipid molecules in a cell membrane. Phospholipids consist of a phosphate group head (top) and a fatty acid hydrophobic ('water-hating') tail. Phospholipids are the primary components of cell membranes, where the hydrophobic property of their tails causes them to form a double layer (bilayer) with the tails pointing inwards and the hydrophilic ('water-loving') heads forming the outer layers. This structure forms spontaneously whenever water is present. The oily core means that only small hydrophobic solutes can pass through it.
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