Linear Diffusion and Cell Signaling

By NNCI Nano

National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure

Published on


In this activity, students explore the concept of diffusion as a component of cell communication.  Specifically, students will explore how the rate of diffusion varies with distance and concentration gradient. They will use a pipet with water and dye to observe a macro-model of diffusion. Additionally in the optional extension, students may explore how diffusion is affected by other factors such as medium type, temperature, molecular weight, shape of container (non-linear diffusion) or any other variable.

Purpose.  This lab is designed to help students understand:

  • Difficulties involved in measuring objects, especially irregular or small objects.
  • How to define or describe diffusion.
  • Qualitative descriptions of concentration and dilution.
  • Methods of cell communication.
  • Construct an investigative lab (optional)

This resource contains multiple documents for download. To view a list of all documents click on the Supporting Docs tab.


Per Lee and the NNIN site at the University of Minnesota

Sponsored by

NSF EEC 1200925 and NSF ECCS 0335765 and ECCS 1626183

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • NNCI Nano (2020), "Linear Diffusion and Cell Signaling,"

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Nancy Healy

Georgia Insitute of Technology