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Experiments In Diffusion: Gases, Liquids, And Solids For Under Five Dollars

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.280.1 - 3.280.6

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James V. Masi

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 0464

Experiments in Diffusion: Gases, Liquids, and Solids for Under Five Dollars

James V. Masi Western New England College, Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Northeast Center for Telecommunications Technology Springfield, MA 01105

Key Words: Diffusion, solid, liquid, gas

Prerequisite Knowledge: The student should be familiar with the basics of materials science, metallography, and chemistry. Levels at which these experiments are performed are freshman, second semester junior year, and either semester senior year. The students are first given a lecture on diffusion. The juniors and seniors should have already had a laboratory experiment on metallography and sample preparation. Safe laboratory practice should be observed at all times (eg. Goggles, gloves, aprons, etc.).

Objectives: The objectives of these experiments are to show that the subject of diffusion is not really so hard to understand and that it plays an important role in our daily lives. Diffusion of molecules through the air can be determined using our sense of smell. Liquid diffusion can be observed using a paper towel or ink in water. Solid diffusion can be observed by measuring the movement of the coloration of a dopant ion in a glass stirring rod or dyes in plastic glue sticks. The objectives, then , are to measure the diffusion rates for solids, liquids, and gases using simple techniques to yield sophisticated answers. Diffusion coefficients will be determined, and curve fitting the graphical results will be performed.

Equipment and supplies: (1) Metallurgical preparation and polishing apparatus (Buehler Co.), (2) Glass or quartz stirring rods (Fisher Scientific), (3) Cupric chloride, Petri dishes, test tubes, tongs, bunsen burners, small beakers (Fisher Scientific), (4) Food Coloring, vanilla or garlic extract, paper towels (grocery store), (5) Metallurgical microscope (Olympus, Zeiss, etc.), (6) Timers (split time preferred), and (7) Hot melt clear and colored glue sticks.

Abstract: Differences in velocities of diffusing species of solids, liquids, and gases can capture the imagination of students of all ages. Using common utensils, host materials, and diffusing media, along with some ingenuity and novelty in team efforts, students can measure the actual velocities of diffusing solids, liquids, and gases, and have fun in the process.

Masi, J. V. (1998, June), Experiments In Diffusion: Gases, Liquids, And Solids For Under Five Dollars Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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