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My aim is to investigate the amount of osmotic activity between a
potato chip and different concentrations of sucrose.
The following affect the rate of osmosis:
The warmer most things are the more quickly particles move, therefore
increased temperature will increase the rate of osmosis. So, if a
potato chip is in a highly concentrated solution the water molecules
will quickly leave the chip because of the increase in temperature or
if the chip is in a high water concentration the water molecules will
go inside the chip.
The longer you leave the potato chip in the solution, more osmosis
will occur, so the greater the change in mass in the potato chip.
If the surface area of the chip is large, there would therefore be
more space for osmosis to occur, so the greater the change in mass in
Concentration of Sucrose
As the concentration increases the mass of the chip decreases. This is
because the chip has a higher water concentration and the water leaves
the chip and goes to the sucrose solution which has a low water
If the concentration of sucrose decreases the mass of the chip
increases. This is because the chip has a lower water concentration
and the water goes inside the chip.
Type of Potato
Different potatoes have different cell sap concentrations. So as each
potato has different cells these cells will affect the rate of
Osmosis is defined as the net movement of water molecules from a
region of high water concentration to a region of low water
concentration through a partially permeable membrane.
I predict that when the water concentration is low in the potato chip,
the water will go inside the tissue of the potato, and the potato chip
will gain weight. If there is very little difference in the two water
concentrations there would only be a slight change in mass and if
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will go out of the chip and thus the chip will lose weight.
In the distilled water, the water in the potato is more concentrated,
therefore the water will go into the potato, making the potato bigger
in size, and heavier in weight. The potato tissue will become turgid
in the weak solution, it will become hard and swollen and no more
water will be able to enter the tissue.
In the 0.25 molar solution, the mass of the chip will slightly
decrease as both the concentration gradients are quite similar, but in
the 0.5 and 0.75 molar solutions there will be a noticeable mass
decrease in the potato chip because the concentration gradients are
very different. The water concentration in the potato chip is higher
than in the 1 molar sucrose solution, so the water will leave the chip
through a partially permeable membrane and go to the sucrose solution.
The mass of the chip will decrease, thus the chip becomes flaccid.
The graph below shows a simple curve when the concentration of the
solution is plotted against the percentage change in mass.
At point A the mass of the chip has slightly increased as there was a
lower water concentration in the chip and the water entered the chip
from a region of high water concentration.
At point B the cell sap is equal. Therefore there is no difference
between the two concentrations so it is balanced. No water will enter
or leave the chip that is why there is no change in mass.
As the concentration of sucrose increases, the mass of the chip
decreases as seen at point C, this is because the sucrose solution has
a low water concentration and the water leaves the chip because it has
a higher water concentration, thus the chip loses mass.
The following apparatus was used to perform the experiment:
1. Scalpel x 1
2. Potato borer x 1
3. Test tube x 5
4. Test tube rack x 1
5. Measuring cylinder x 1
6. Stopwatch x 1
7. Weighing scale x 1
8. White tile x 1
9. Paper towel
First I got a potato borer and pushed the potato borer through the
potato, cutting it into long cylinders with a diameter of 5 mm. I had
5 potato cylinders. This was done on a white tile. I then used a
scalpel and cut the chips to a length of 6 cm by measuring with a
Taking a test tube rack I placed 5 test tubes and then labeled them
0.00M, 0.25M, 0.5M, 0.75M and 1M. Using a measuring cylinder of 20 ml,
I measured the different concentrations of sucrose solutions. I
weighed the potato chips on weighing scales and recorded the weight. I
put the potato chips in each test tube and immediately started the
stopwatch for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes I took the chips out of the solutions and dried them
with a paper towel so that the water outside the potato tissue would
not alter the weight it is supposed to be. The mass of the chips was
measured and recorded in the table below:
Mass before (g)
Mass after (g)
I repeated the experiment for reliability. This time I left the potato
chip in the solution for 10 minutes but the results were not as good
as the previous experiment's. Not enough time was given for osmosis to
take place. So 20 minutes is a good time for the experiment.
The experiment must be a fair test, if it is not we will be obtaining
the wrong results. To make sure it is a fair test all aspects of the
experiment must be the same except for the concentration of the
solutions which will give us a varied set of results.
The measurement s of the solutions has to be exact. The length and
width of the potato chips must be as accurate as possible as this
could affect the rate of osmosis. The temperature must be constant
through out the experiment that is why I did the experiment at room
temperature. The same weighing scales will be used throughout the
experiment, this is because the measurements may vary slightly between
The stopwatch should be started as soon as the potato chips are put
inside the test tubes, and should be stopped as soon the 20 minutes
have passed. Taking the chips out of the solution, drying them and
measuring the mass should all be done as quickly as possible.
Lastly and most importantly the chips should be in compete contact
with the solution if not, osmosis may not occur to its fullest
Safety is extremely important and must be taken into consideration.
Whilst using the scalpel to cut the potato, extreme care must be taken
as the scalpel is sharp and it could easily harm you or someone else.
Caution must be taken when using the potato borer. You must not put
your hand underneath the potato when pushing the potato borer as you
can stab your hand and cause a serious injury.
The Actual Experiment
The same concentrations of sucrose were used, the length of the potato
chips was 6 centimeters and the width was 6 mm. I changed the diameter
from 5 mm to 6 mm because 5 mm was not wide enough and more osmosis
could take place with a larger surface area, thus the greater change
in mass. The solutions were measured at 20 ml and the time was 20
I followed the same procedure as before.
Mass Before (g)
Mass After (g)
Change in Mass (g)
Average Change in Mass
Average Change in Mass (g)
The results show that the potato cylinders expand when the external
solution concentration is low (high water concentration) and contract
when it is in a high molar solution (low water concentration).
I have plotted a graph from my results.
The graph shows that as the concentration of sucrose increases the
mass of the chip decreases, this is due to osmosis when water
molecules pass from a region of high water concentration to a region
of low water concentration through a partially permeable membrane.
The point where the line crosses the x-axis is the isotonic point.
This is where no osmosis is taking place, i.e. no water is moving in
or out of the potato, both the potato and the solution have an
identical molar concentration. At 0.25 Molar a slight loss in mass has
taken place as the solution has a low water concentration and water
has been lost due to osmosis. An even greater mass loss has occurred
at 0.50 Molar as the solution has an even lower water concentration.
When the concentration reaches above 0.75 M, there appears to be no
further water loss, suggesting that the cell is fully plasmolysed.
This shows that the sucrose solution has a very low water
concentration. This pattern carries on through out the graph, and even
more mass is lost, as more water moves out of the potato chip into the
The line in the graph is straight so the gradient does not change
which means that the average change in mass is directly proportional
to the concentrations.
From the line of best fit, it can be seen that all of my points are
close. This shows that my results are fairly reliable.
My results are very similar to my prediction. This was that osmosis
would take place and there would be a loss in mass as the molar
concentrations increased. Even the graph is very similar to my
In my opinion the experiment went well. I obtained a good set of
results from which I was able to plot informative graphs. My graphs
have a strong resemblance to the one in the prediction.
The time, 20 minutes was enough for osmosis to occur and the range of
concentrations was adequate but if I was to repeat the experiment I
would have had more types of molar solutions, i.e. 0.10 M, 1.15 M,
1.20 M, and so on. This would have allowed me to find the isotonic
point more accurately as the one that I estimated was an
approximation. I could have also obtained more accurate results.
Making sure the potato cylinders were exact was difficult as it could
have affected the surface area and overall the rate of osmosis. If I
were to repeat the experiment I could have used cloned potatoes and a
machine that would cut out the chips with the exact dimensions and
weight. I could have also weighed each chip on a more accurate scale,
e.g. 0.0000g rather than 0.00g. When the potato chips were removed
from the test tube and dried I may have dried some chips more than
others and so some would have had more water than others which would
affect the mass. If the experiment was repeated I would have found
another way to dry the potatoes that would ensure that all were dried
in the same way for the same time
My results did lie close to the line so they were fairly accurate but
to be completely accurate I could have had made a few changes which
are mentioned above. There were not any anomalous results, but some
results were not as close to the line as others. This may have been
caused by human error.
For reliability, I have plotted a graph showing the changes in mass
from both attempts made against the difference in concentrations of
Most of my results are close to the line of best fit but there are a
few further away from the line, this could have been caused by human
error, or perhaps the potato chip was not cut accurately, or cells did
not lose or gain mass from that part of the potato.
To make this experiment perfect I could have used more molar
solutions, the temperature in the room could have been accurate as the
temperature may change due to weather conditions or if the experiment
was done near a window, longer time could have been given for more
osmotic activity to occur and the potato chips could have all been
identical in mass, surface area, length and width.
Over all I thoroughly enjoyed the experiment and I am very pleased
with my results.