Hydrophobic

Definition - What does Hydrophobic mean?

Water is considered to be a universal solvent that hydrophilic materials can dissolve in. However, hydrophobic molecules cannot dissolve in water. The term ‘hydrophobic’ derives from Greek roots, where ‘hydro’ means water and ‘phobia’ means fearing or hating. The word hydrophobic refers to non-polar substances that do not combine with water molecules.

Hydrophobic basically means lacking a sort of attraction for water and tending to repel or not to absorb water. While non-polar molecules that repel water molecules are said to be hydrophobic, the molecules forming ionic or a hydrogen bond with the water molecule are said to be hydrophilic.

In horticulture, the term hydrophobic might refer to overly dry soil that seems to repel or not absorb water.

MaximumYield explains Hydrophobic

The hydrophobic effect is the tendency of non-polar substances to mass together in an aquatic solution and exclude water molecules. The term hydrophobic literally means "fearing water" and it describes the separation of water and non-polar substances, which maximizes the hydrogen bonding between molecules of water and minimizes the area of contact between water and non-polar molecules.

The hydrophobic effect results in the separation of a mixture of oil and water into its two components. The effect is also responsible for biological effects such as cell membrane and vesicle formations, protein folding, insertion of membrane proteins into the non-polar lipid environment, and protein-small molecule associations. Thus, the hydrophobic effect is essential to life.

Hydrophobic substances are known as hydrophobes. A common misconception is that water and fat don’t mix because the Van der Waals forces that are acting upon water and fat molecules are too weak. However, this is actually due to oil being made of hydrophobes, which are non-polar molecules that usually have a long chain of carbons and do not interact with water molecules.

The origins of the hydrophobic effect have not been completely understood. However, some researchers argue that the hydrophobic interaction is mostly an entropic effect that is the result from the disruption of highly dynamic hydrogen bonds between molecules of liquid water by the non-polar solute.

This definition was written in the context of Horticulture
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