How to grow chemical algae
Want to find out how easy it is to grow an artificial cell with just two salts? Check this out!
Warning! Only under adult supervision.
- copper(II) sulfate solution;
- potassium hexacyanoferrate(II) tablets;
Fill a cuvette with a solution of copper(II) sulfate and add a few tablets of potassium hexacyanoferrate(II). After a while, observe the growth of artificial cells!
Potassium hexacyanoferrate(II) reacts with copper(II) sulfate to form a “cell” with a film of copper(II) hexacyanoferrate(II). This film has one interesting property – it will allow water molecules, but not copper(II) sulfate, to pass through it. Such films are called “semi-permeable,” since they allow some substances to pass through but retain others. The concentration of potassium hexacyanoferrate(II) inside the "cell" is greater than the concentration of copper(II) sulfate outside the “cell,” and therefore water diffuses through the film into the "cell" until the concentrations of potassium hexacyanoferrate(II) and copper(II) sulfate are equalized. The influx of water tears the film, and a new film forms at the site of the tear! Interestingly, plant cell membranes possess a similar ability to selectively allow substances through.
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