concentration difference divided by the distance is called
concentration ordiffusion gradient
.When the molecular size is greater, rapidity with which molecule diffusefrom one point to another is less. The rate of diffusion is approximately inverselyproportional to square root of molecular weight but is affected by shape of themolecule as well.Different factors which affect the rate of diffusion are:
The greater the concentration difference, greater is the rate of diffusion.
The less the square root of molecular weight, the grater is the rate of diffusion.
The shorter the distance, the greater the rate.
The greater the cross section of the chamber in which diffusion takes place,the greater is the rate of diffusion.
The greater the temperature, greater the molecular motion and greater thediffusion.
The time for equilibriation by diffusion is proportional to square of diffusion distance. This aspect has biological importance. It limits the size of individual cells since cellular metabolism depends upon the rapid diffusion of O2& substrates from membrane to metabolic sites. In human body no metabolicallyactive cell is more than 20 micro meters from a capillary. The rate of diffusion of molecules down a concentration gradient is given by the
dv/dt =J= - DA (dc/dx )
dv/dt= rate of diffusion in moles /sec
dc/dx is the concentration gradient down which diffusion is occurring inmol cm-3 cm-1.
sign indicates that diffusion is occurring in direction of decreasingconcentration, A is the area of plane of solution at right angles to movement. D isthe diffusion coefficient . Value of D depends on size of molecule & viscosity of solution.Eg: In lung tissue , at rest only a fraction of total lung surface is used for gasexchange and while at exercise total surface area of 75 m2 becomes available fordiffusion.