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13.10: Colloidal Mixtures

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  • A suspension is a heterogeneous mixture of particles of one substance distributed throughout a second phase; the dispersed particles separate from the dispersing phase on standing. In contrast, the particles in a colloid are smaller and do not separate on standing. A colloid can be classified as a sol, a dispersion of solid particles in a liquid or solid; a gel, a semisolid sol in which all of the liquid phase has been absorbed by the solid particles; an aerosol, a dispersion of solid or liquid particles in a gas; or an emulsion, a dispersion of one liquid phase in another. A colloid can be distinguished from a true solution by its ability to scatter a beam of light, known as the Tyndall effect. Hydrophilic colloids contain an outer shell of groups that interact favorably with water, whereas hydrophobic colloids have an outer surface with little affinity for water. Emulsions are prepared by dispersing a hydrophobic liquid in water. In the absence of a dispersed hydrophobic liquid phase, solutions of detergents in water form organized spherical aggregates called micelles. Phospholipids are a class of detergent-like molecules that have two hydrophobic tails attached to a hydrophilic head. A bilayer is a two-dimensional sheet consisting of a double layer of phospholipid molecules arranged tail to tail with a hydrophobic interior and a hydrophilic exterior. Cells are collections of molecules that are surrounded by a phospholipid bilayer called a cell membrane and are able to reproduce themselves.