Bitesize has changed! We're updating subjects as fast as we can. Visit our new site to find Bitesize guides and clips - and tell us what you think!

Home > Science > Chemical and material behaviour > Behaviour of matter

Science

Behaviour of matter

Print
Next

Diffusion

If someone is cooking in the kitchen it doesn't take long for the smell to travel around the house to other rooms. This is because of diffusion.

Diffusion in gases

When chemicals, like the smell of perfume or burning toast, are let loose in a room, the particles mix with the air particles. The particles of smelly gas are free to move quickly in all directions. They eventually spread through the whole room. This is called diffusion.

You don't have to mix the gases by waving your arms around - it mixes on its own. Diffusion in gases is quick because the particles in a gas move quickly. It happens even faster in hot gases

At first, the gas represented by red particles is concentrated in on area. After diffution, they are no longer concentrated in one area and are mixed in with other gas particles in a more random way.

Diffusion happens quickly in gases.

Diffusion in liquids

Diffusion can also happen in liquids. This is because the particles in liquids can move around each other, which means that eventually they are evenly mixed.

For example if you drop a little bit of paint into a jar of water the colour will spread slowly through the water. This is by diffusion.

Diffusion in liquids is slower than diffusion in gases because the particles in a liquid move more slowly.

Solids

Diffusion does not happen at all in solids because the particles in a solid can only vibrate on the spot, rather than being able to move from place to place.

Next

Activity

Behaviour of matter activity

Under pressure? See what happens when you cool down.

Play

Elemental

Can you conquer the elements?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.