B4.1.3.1

Diffusion

Content

  • Substances may move into and out of cells across the cell membranes via diffusion.

Diffusion is the spreading out of the particles of any substance in solution, or particles of a gas, resulting in a net movement from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration.

Some of the substances transported in and out of cells by diffusion are oxygen and carbon dioxide in gas exchange, and of the waste product urea from cells into the blood plasma for excretion in the kidney.

Students should be able to explain how different factors affect the rate of diffusion.

Factors which affect the rate of diffusion are:

  • the difference in concentrations (concentration gradient)
  • the temperature
  • the surface area of the membrane.

A single-celled organism has a relatively large surface area to volume ratio. This allows sufficient transport of molecules into and out of the cell to meet the needs of the organism.

Students should be able to calculate and compare surface area to volume ratios.

Students should be able to explain the need for exchange surfaces and a transport system in multicellular organisms in terms of surface area to volume ratio.

Students should be able to explain how the small intestine and lungs in mammals, gills in fish, and the roots and leaves in plants, are adapted for exchanging materials.

In multicellular organisms, surfaces and organ systems are specialised for exchanging materials. This is to allow sufficient molecules to

be transported into and out of cells for the organism’s needs. The effectiveness of an exchange surface is increased by:

  • having a large surface area
  • a membrane that is thin, to provide a short diffusion path
  • (in animals) having an efficient blood supply
  • (in animals, for gaseous exchange) being ventilated.

Recognise/draw/interpret diagrams. Translate from data to a representation with a model. Use models in explanations, or match features of a model to the data from experiments or observations that the model describes or explains. Make predictions or calculate quantities based on the model or show its limitations. Give examples of ways in which a model can be tested by observation or experiment.,

Give examples to show that there are hazards associated with science-based technologies which have to be considered alongside the benefits. Suggest reasons why the perception of risk is often very different from the measured risk (eg voluntary vs imposed risks, familiar vs unfamiliar risks, visible vs invisible hazards).

Use ratios, fractions and percentages,

Calculate areas of triangles and rectangles, surface areas and volumes of cubes