Standard Article

Water: Structure and Properties

  1. Kim A Sharp

Published Online: 25 APR 2001

DOI: 10.1038/npg.els.0003116



How to Cite

Sharp, K. A. 2001. Water: Structure and Properties. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. E. R. Johnson Research Foundation, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 APR 2001


Water is a major component of all living things. It is anomalous in many of its physical and chemical properties. Some are essential for life while others have profound effects on the size and shape of living organisms, how they work, and the constraints within which they must operate. Many of water's basic physical properties can now be explained, at least semiquantitatively, in molecular and structural terms, although in spite of intense study it remains incompletely understood.


  • hydrogen bonds;
  • hydrophobicity;
  • hydration;
  • solvation;
  • polarity;
  • hydrophilicity