Why do things diffuse that is why do they go from a place of higher concentration to a place of lower concentration?

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    $\begingroup$ Hi and welcome to Chemistry Stack Exchange. It basically boils down to the fact that it is more likely that the particles are going spread apart and become evenly distributed rather than them all accumulating in one spot. So basically, the second law of thermodynamics! $\endgroup$ – Nanoputian May 14 '16 at 9:44

The short answer

They don't.

The long answer

Molecules are very fast. For example, a single molecule in the air around you can be as fast as 500 km/h. The reason that you do not feel them is because they are too small.

Also, you need to understand that there are very, very, very many molecules in a "small" volume.

So, until this point, you have many molecules which travel very fast.

Suppose a gas is divided to high and low concentration areas. The area with high concentration would have more molecules, and let's say 50% of them is travelling towards the area of low concentration (they all move randomly, and in a straight line unless collision happens).

Let's say, 50% of the gas molecules in the area of low concentration is also travelling to the area of high concentration.

Then, you would have a net movement of molecules from high to low concentration.

The keyword here is net. Some molecules do go from low to high concentration. However, they are outnumbered.

After they reach equilibrium, there is still gas molecules travelling between the two regions, just that they are equal in number.


Of course, because my explanation being not very formal and strict, there would be some errors in my explanation, but I hope that you understand it.

  • $\begingroup$ That was very helpful :) @Kenny Lau $\endgroup$ – user29898 May 17 '16 at 13:40

As molecules possess kinetic energy of their own, they keep on colliding with each other.

To avoid this collision, they have a tendency to move away from each other, especially the gaseous molecules, as they have the highest kinetic energy. So they start moving.

But the net movement of molecule is from high concentration to low concentration so that equilibrium can be reached.That's why diffusion occurs.


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