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Question 1

Distinguish between the meaning of the terms adsorption and absorption. Give one example of each.


Adsorption is a surface phenomenon of accumulation of molecules of a substance at the surface rather than in the bulk of a solid or liquid. The substance that gets adsorbed is called the 'adsorbate' and the substance on whose surface the adsorption takes place is called the 'adsorbent'. Here, the concentration of the adsorbate on the surface of the adsorbent increases. In adsorption, the substance gets concentrated at the surface only. It does not penetrate through the surface to the bulk of the solid or liquid. For example, when we dip a chalk stick into an ink solution, only its surface becomes coloured. If we break the chalk stick, it will be found to be white from inside.


On the other hand, the process of absorption is a bulk phenomenon. In absorption, the substance gets uniformly distributed throughout the bulk of the solid or liquid.

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