Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Osmosis Variables

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Factors affecting the investigation


Osmosis occurs when there is a difference in potentials, each side of a selectively permeable membrane. The free water molecules move from a high potential to a low potential across a selectively permeable membrane. In this case, the tiny holes in the membrane of the potato cells will allow the water molecules to pass through in and out of the solution and the potato, depending on the concentration gradient of the two substances. So in this case, when the water potential is lower in the potato cells, the water will diffuse across from the solution, and into the cells of the potato, so therefore the potato will gain mass. If there is very little difference in the two water concentrations, there shouldn¡¦t be such a big change in mass. Furthermore, if there is a higher potential of water in the potato, the water will diffuse back out of the potato and enter back into the solution.


The factors involved that would affect the experiment are


„h Time


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The time span in which the potatoes are exposed to the different solutions will have a large impact on the experiment. For instance if we put the potatoes in the range of concentrations for an hour, more osmosis would take place than if we put them in the same concentrations for half an hour.


„h Test samples


The test samples (potatoes) will need to be the same size (surface area) for all of the tests that I choose to do, and they must be from the same potato. This is because when there is a larger surface area, more osmosis will take place, because there are more cells for the water to diffuse through across the selectively permeable membrane (Surface area is proportional to osmosis). The test samples need to be from the same potato because different potatoes may have cells with different water potentials and therefore giving us a false result


„h Temperature


For the duration of this experiment, the temperature will have to be kept constant because osmosis may occur at a higher or lower rate at different temperatures. This is because heated water molecules have more energy than non-heated water molecules. We will therefore need to make sure that all the samples are kept at the same temperature when they are being tested.


„h Concentrations


Concentrations of sucrose will have a big affect on the outcome of the experiment. The higher the concentration of the solution, the less heavy the potato becomes. This is the crucial variable that is going to be tested. I will explain this in more detail later on.


„h Volumes


The volume of the solution that the potato chips are kept in must be the same. The chip must be totally covered in the solution, and the amount of solution will be kept the same because all the chips are the same size.





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