Determination of the diffusion coefficient between corn syrup and distilled water using a digital camera

E. Ray
P. Bunton
J. A. Pojman


A simple technique for determining the diffusion coefficient between two miscible liquids is presented based on observing concentration-dependent ultraviolet-excited fluorescence using a digital camera. The ultraviolet-excited visible fluorescence of corn syrup is proportional to the concentration of the syrup. The variation of fluorescence with distance from the transition zone between the fluids is fit by the Fick's law solution to the diffusion equation. By monitoring the concentration at successive times, the diffusion coefficient can be determined in otherwise transparent materials. The technique is quantitative and makes measurement of diffusion accessible in the advanced undergraduate physics laboratory. (c) 2007 American Association of Physics Teachers.