You can't wash the dishes without surfactant? Until then, the first thing you need to worry about is how to save your life.
Surfactants seem to think of detergent first when it comes to surfactants in daily life. Decontamination is indeed an important role of surfactants in daily chemical products.
but the significance of surfactants and reducing surface tension is much more than washing off oil stains and blowing soap bubbles. Natural surfactants are also very important to organisms, without which we would not be able to live. The phospholipids that make up the cell membrane can be regarded as a kind of surfactant, and today we want to talk about another manifestation of surfactant sustaining life.
everyone roughly knows how the lungs breathe. Driven by the respiratory muscles, negative pressure is formed inside, and the gas is inhaled into the open alveoli, where the gas is exchanged, and then oxygen is supplied to the whole body. This process requires the help of surfactants. Normally, the surface of the alveoli is covered with surfactants, a phospholipid protein complex produced by the lungs. Here, the role of surfactants is also to reduce the surface tension of the alveoli. When the surface tension is low, the alveoli can expand more smoothly and maintain stability more easily, and the alveoli are fully expanded to allow the body to absorb enough oxygen.
the picture below is a comparative diagram of the alveoli with and without surfactant, and you can see that the one on the left can be opened more fully.
if the surfactant is insufficient, the alveoli will collapse easily, causing respiratory distress and life-threatening. This is more likely to happen in premature babies. Now, there are treatments for this condition that supplement exogenous lung surfactants (such as pig lung phospholipids) to babies' alveoli to help them breathe smoothly.
here is a medical pulmonary surfactant:
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