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In chemistry, absorption is a physical or chemical phenomenon or a process in which atoms, molecules or ions enter some bulk phase – liquid or solid material. This is a different process from adsorption, since molecules undergoing absorption are taken up by the volume, not by the surface (as in the case for adsorption).
A more common definition is that "Absorption is a chemical or physical phenomenon in which the molecules, atoms and ions of the substance getting absorbed enters into the bulk phase (gas, liquid or solid) of the material in which it is taken up."
In many processes important in technology, the chemical absorption is used in place of the physical process, e.g., absorption of carbon dioxide by sodium hydroxide – such acid-base processes do not follow the Nernst partition law (see: solubility).
For some examples of this effect, see liquid-liquid extraction. It is possible to extract a solute from one liquid phase to another without a chemical reaction. Examples of such solutes are noble gases and osmium tetroxide.
The process of absorption means that a substance captures and transforms energy. The absorbent distributes the material it captures throughout whole and adsorbent only distributes it through the surface.
The process of gas or liquid which penetrate into the body of adsorbent is commonly known as absorption.