What is the difference between diffusion and osmosis?
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What is the difference between diffusion and osmosis?

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Quick Answer

Osmosis is a particular type of diffusion in which water crosses a semi-permeable membrane to an area with a greater solute concentration, whereas standard diffusion often allows the free movement of both solutes and solvent toward equilibrium. Diffusion in general is the net movement of molecules in solution from areas of higher concentration to areas of lower concentration. Osmotic pressure is potentially very powerful, with osmotic pressure being the only force necessary to move water from the roots to the tops of the tallest trees in the world.

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When water dissolves another substance, it is because the polar water molecules and the solute attract one another. Each atom, ion or molecule of solute has a charge in at least one region that attracts one side or another of the water molecule. As such, as many water molecules as possible tend to gather around each particle of solvent. In liquid water, all molecules are in constant, random motion around each other. However, because of the attraction, the water molecules are slightly more likely to move toward particles of solute than they are away from them, and solute particles are more likely to move toward water molecules than other particles of solvent. This net movement results, gradually, in an even distribution of the solute. In osmosis, only the water molecules can move to equalize concentrations.

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  • Q:

    How is osmosis different from diffusion?

    A:

    Diffusion is the spontaneous movement of any type of particle or molecule from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration, while osmosis is the diffusion of water across a semi-permeable membrane. Osmosis only occurs in liquid. Diffusion mainly occurs in a gaseous state, though it also occurs in liquids.

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  • Q:

    What are examples of simple diffusion?

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    Osmosis is an example of simple diffusion. Simple diffusion is the process by which a solution or gas moves from high particle concentration areas to low particle concentration areas. This is also known as passive diffusion. A drop of red dye turning water pink is an example of the simple diffusion process.

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  • Q:

    What are the principals of hypotonic biology?

    A:

    Tonicity is the osmotic pressure gradient of two solutions separated by a semi-permeable membrane. A hypotonic solution contains less solute but more water than another solution. Pure water is hypotonic compared to any solution because it does not contain any solute.

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  • Q:

    What are some types of diffusion?

    A:

    There are three types of diffusion that occur in the human body: simple diffusion, channel diffusion and facilitated diffusion. Each type permits molecules to go into and out of cells, allowing biochemical processes to take place.

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