Differences between chemisorption and physisorption

Differences between chemisorption and physisorption
Differences between chemisorption and physisorption Image source : https://psiberg.com/physisorption-vs-chemisorption/

Physical adsorption, also known as physisorption, is a reversible phenomenon involving weak Van der Waals forces between adsorbate and adsorbent, whereas chemisorption is an irreversible phenomenon involving strong chemical interaction between adsorbate and adsorbent.

1.It is a reversible phenomenon.It is an irreversible phenomenon.
2.Physisorption is caused by Van der Waals forces.It is caused by chemical bond formation.
3.It is not specific in nature.It is highly specific in nature.
4.Low temperature favors the physisorption process. It decreases as the temperature rises.High temperature is favorable for adsorption. It increases as the temperature rises.
5. Easily liquefiable gases are readily adsorbed.Gases that can react
with the adsorbent show
6.Enthalpy of adsorption is low (20–
40 kJ mol-1).
The enthalpy of chemisorption is high (80-240 kJ mol-1).
7.Physical adsorption has a lower activation energy.Chemical adsorption has a higher activation energy.
8.Physisorption is a weak phenomenon.It is a strong process.
9.It is a multi-layered process.This type of adsorption is almost entirely a single-layered phenomenon.
10.For example: Adsorption of oxygen or hydrogen on the surface of charcoalFor example: Adsorption of oxygen on metal surfaces.


  1. Hiemenz P. C. & Rajagopalan R. (1997). Principles of colloid and surface chemistry (3rd ed. rev. and expanded Paul C. Hiemenz Raj Rajagopalan). Marcel Dekker.
  2. https://nitsri.ac.in/Department/Chemical%20Engineering/Adsorption.pdf
  3. https://www.embibe.com/exams/application-of-adsorption/
  4. https://byjus.com/jee/adsorption/
  5. https://nitsri.ac.in/Department/Chemical%20Engineering/Adsorption.pdf

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Kabita Sharma

Kabita Sharma is a graduate student from the central department of chemistry, Tribhuvan University. She has been actively involved in research related to natural products, computational chemistry, and nanochemistry. She is currently working on enzyme assay, molecular docking, and molecular dynamic simulation.

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