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What are the factors that affect the rate of diffusion?

Last updated date: 23rd May 2024
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Hint: Diffusion is the process in which the molecules of a solute are transferred from a region of its higher concentration to a region of its lower concentration. This process is carried out across any permeable membrane according to concentration gradient. There are several factors associated with the diffusion that affects its rate.

Complete answer:

The movement of a solute across a permeable membrane is called diffusion. A particular element is likely to move from a region having high concentration to a region having low concentration until the concentration is equal in both the regions.

Several factors that affect the rate of diffusion are:

- The degree of the concentration gradient- The higher the difference in concentration the faster the diffusion.

- Solubility- Nonpolar or lipid-soluble materials travel across the plasma membranes more effortlessly than polar materials permitting a rapid rate of diffusion.

- Surface area and width of the plasma membrane- The rate of diffusion increases with the increase in the surface area whereas a thicker membrane reduces the rate of diffusion.

- Temperature- The rate of diffusion increases with the increase in the temperature as the energy and the movement of the molecules increases at high temperature. The rate of diffusion decreases at a lower temperature due to a decrease in molecule energy. 

- Mass of the molecules- Molecules having more mass will undergo diffusion slowly whereas the lighter molecule has a higher rate of diffusion.

- The density of the solvent- Higher the density of the solvent slower is the rate of diffusion. Diffusion increases with the decrease in the density.

- Distance traveled- The rate of the diffusion increases with the decrease in the distance traveled by the molecule. Diffusion decreases with the increase in the distance.


> Diffusion is essential to cells as it allows them to acquire the valuable substances they need to gain energy and develop and also help them to remove unwanted products. 

> Pressure plays an important role in the diffusion of gases. There are several examples in daily life which demonstrate the process of diffusion such as a perfume spray, etc.