Definitions

buffer

buffer

[buhf-er]
buffer, solution that can keep its relative acidity or alkalinity constant, i.e., keep its pH constant, despite the addition of strong acids or strong bases. Buffer solutions are frequently solutions that contain either a weak acid and one of its salts or a weak base and one of its salts. Many acid-base reactions take place in living organisms. However, for organisms to perform certain vital functions, the body fluids associated with these functions must maintain a constant pH. For example, blood must maintain a pH of close to 7.4 in order to carry oxygen from the lungs to cells; blood is therefore a powerful buffer.

Solution usually containing a weak acid and its conjugate weak base, or a salt, of such a composition that the pH is held constant within a certain range. An example is a solution containing acetic acid (CH3COOH) and the acetate ion (CH3COO). The pH depends on their relative concentration and can be found with a simple formula involving their ratio. Relatively small additions of acid or base will change the concentration of the two species, but their ratio, and hence the pH, will not change much. Different buffers are useful in different pH ranges; they include phosphoric acid, citric acid, and boric acid, each with their salts. Biological fluids such as blood, tears, and semen have natural buffers to maintain them at the pH required for their proper function. See also law of mass action.

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Buffer can refer to:

  • Buffer state, a country lying between two potentially hostile greater powers, thought to prevent conflict between them
  • Buffer zone, any area that keeps two or more other areas distant from one another, may be demilitarized
  • Buffer (rail transport), a device that cushions the impact of vehicles against each other
  • Buffer stop (bumper in U.S.), a device to prevent railway vehicles from going past the end of a section of track
  • Recoil buffer, an accessory for firearms, to cushion the impact of recoil
  • Buffer (navy), the colloquial term for the senior seaman sailor in a (British Commonwealth) Navy ship
  • Buffer wheel, a wheel attached to a motor similar to a pedestal grinder used to smooth and polish metals and other materials
  • Film loop, isolates intermittent motion in a movie projector
  • Buff (MMORPG terminology), in MMORPG gaming, abilities which enhance other character's abilities

People:

In physical science:

  • Buffer solution, a solution which resists change of pH upon addition of small amounts of acid or base, or upon dilution
  • Buffering agent, the weak acid or weak base in a buffer solution
  • Buffer gas, an inert or nonflammable gas
  • Buffer (GIS), a zone around a map feature
  • Lysis buffer, in biochemistry, a destructor of cell membranes that enables analysis of the compounds within
  • Mineral redox buffer, a mineral assemblage which stabilises oxidation state in natural rock systems

In electronics and computer science:

  • Data buffer, memory used to temporarily store output or input data
  • Buffer (telecommunication), a routine or storage medium used to compensate for a difference in rate of flow of data between devices
  • Framebuffer
  • Optical buffer, a device that stores optically transmitted data without converting it to the electrical domain
  • Buffer amplifier (also sometimes simply called a buffer), an isolating circuit used in electronics or telecommunications
  • Buffer (optical fiber), a component used to encapsulate one or more optical fibers in a fiber optic communication cable

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