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Note 2: Polymeric micelles have a much lower critical micellar concentration (CMC) than soap or surfactant micelles, but are nevertheless at equilibrium with isolated macromolecules called unimers.

Individual surfactant molecules that are in the system but are not part of a micelle are called "monomers".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 tough to fit two chains into this shape)) (plural micelles or micellae, respectively) is an aggregate (or supramolecular assembly) of surfactant molecules dispersed in a liquid colloid.A typical micelle in aqueous solution forms an aggregate with the hydrophilic "head" regions in contact with surrounding solvent, sequestering the hydrophobic single-tail regions in the micelle centre.The ability of a soapy solution to act as a detergent has been recognized for centuries.However, it is only at the beginning of the twentieth century that the constitution of such solutions was scientifically studied.