SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Osmosis in red blood cells. Illustration of the different appearance of red blood cells when placed in solutions of differing osmotic potential. Osmosis (the flow of water across a semi-permeable membrane, such as a cell membrane) occurs when there is a difference in relative solute-water concentrations. At left, in a hyperosmotic solution, water flows out of the cells, causing them to shrivel. At centre, in an isomotic solution, the cells are normal. At right, in a hyposmotic solution, water flows into the cells and they swell and eventually burst. For osmosis in plant cells, see image C023/8786. For this artwork with labels, see image C023/8783.
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