Osmosis and Diffusion

An overview of how water and other molecules may move into, around, or out of cells!

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Some useful keywords before we start!

  • Water Potential - a measure of the tendancy of water molecules to diffuse from one place to another.
  • Solvent - a liquid that dissolves a solvent e.g. Water.
  • Solute - the thing that is to be dissolved e.g. salt.
  • Solution - the solute and the solvent mixed together.
  • Passive process - Does not require energy for the process to take place
  • Haemolysis - when an animal cell bursts because too much water has been taken into the cell. the cell becomes haemolysed.
  • Turgid - when a plant cell is turgid, the cell membrane pushes against the cell wall. the cell wall prevents bursting when a lot of water is taken in unlike in an animal cell.
  • Crenation - this is when a lot of water leaves an animal cell, and it becomes wrinkled.
  • Plasmolysis - when the cell membrane pulls away from the cell wall because a lot of water leaves the cell (plant cells only). The cell becomes plasmolysed.
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Osmosis is a form of diffusion, so it is a passive process (requires no energy). It is a measure of the net movement of water from a region with high water potential (or a high concentration of water molecules) to a region with low water potential across a partially permeable membrane. 


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