lipids containing phosphoric acid as a mono- or di-ester

Phospholipids are a type of fat that contain phosphorus.[1] They are major parts of all cell membranes because they form lipid bilayers.

The left image shows a phospholipid, and the right image shows the chemical makeup.
Cell membranes consist of phospholipid bilayers

Phospholipid molecules usually have hydrophobic tails and a hydrophilic head.[2] Biological membranes in eukaryotes also contain another class of lipid, sterols. These are spaced out among the phospholipids. Together they provide membrane fluidity and mechanical strength. Purified phospholipids are produced commercially and have found applications in nanotechnology and materials science.[3]


  1. Introduction to lipids. Carnegie Mellon University. [1] Archived 2007-06-12 at the Wayback Machine
  2. hydrophobic = water-rejecting; hydrophilic = water-loving.
  3. Mashaghi S; Jadidi T. & Koenderink G. Mashaghi A. (2013). "Lipid nanotechnology". Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2013 (14): 4242–4282. doi:10.3390/ijms14024242. PMC 3588097. PMID 23429269.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)