Osmosis and Diffusion

Similarities and differences between osmosis and diffusion


Osmosis is the process in which water passes through a semipermeable membrane towards an area of higher solute concentration. For example, if a bag with a 0.2 sucrose molarity is placed in distilled water then the water will flow into the bag because it has a higher solute concentration.

Osmosis in the Human Body

Some examples of osmosis within our selves would be our blood. If you were to inject water with a high amount of salt into yourself the blood cells in your body would lose water and shrivel up. If you were to inject pure water into yourself the water would flow into your blood cells causing them to expand or even explode.


Diffusion is the process in which molecules intermingle and will spread out in their given area. They will move from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration. For example, if two gases in a container are separated by a barrier and the barrier is removed then they will both spread out until both gases are occupying the same amount of space.

Similarities and Differences

Osmosis and diffusion both have to do with equalizing the concentration between to solutions, However osmosis refers to water exclusively moving through a semi-permeable membrane. Diffusion does not involve a semi-permeable and can involve water and other solutions diffusing but still does relatively the same thing.

Water Potential

Water potential is the energy that it takes to move water. Water potential can be caused by osmosis, gravity, mechanical pressure or other effects like surface tension. For example, if water running down a stream would be water potential caused by gravity. Water potential is equal to pressure potential plus solute potential.
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The Difference Between Hyper-, Hypo, and Isotonic

Hypertonic means that something has less water than its surroundings. Hypotonic means that it has more water than its surroundings and isotonic means that it has an equal amount of water to its surroundings. Things that are hypertonic will lose water, things that are hypotonic will take water in, and things that are isotonic will have an equal inward and outward flow.
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Osmosis in Plant/Animal Cells

Plant cells have a large central vacuole that they like to keep full of water so that they can have a good amount of turgor pressure. Both plant and animal cells use osmosis to transport things in and out of their cell membranes.