These are the necessary tools for any scientific laboratory worth its salt.
Most of the scientific advances of the last centuries have been possible thanks to the progressive technology and the effort of its application in the investigation of the phenomena of different branches or aspects of reality, generally through experimental research.
Although these investigations can be carried out in different ways and in different places, they are generally carried out in some type of laboratory, where there are sufficient elements and conditions to generate experiments that can check or analyze samples, as well as reproduce in controlled conditions the phenomena or situations to be studied.
And in this context , the need for adequate equipment and sufficient laboratory material stands out. Throughout this article we are going to talk about the different elements that make up the latter, at least with regard to the most basic of what is usually available in general.
Laboratory equipment: basic objects
We can understand by laboratory material the set of utensils and instruments that a laboratory needs in order to carry out the necessary research or experimentation in order to generate knowledge and analyze the phenomenon of reality that is being studied.
It must be taken into account that there are a great variety of types of laboratory, each of them requiring specialized material in the field of study in which it works: it does not require the same type of material from a physics laboratory as a chemistry laboratory, for example. The material listed below is what is often considered the most basic and the one most associated with the laboratory prototype, perhaps with an orientation toward chemistry, biology, and medicine.
1. Test tube
This small transparent tube, which has a base that allows it to be supported, has the main function of measuring the volume of a liquid or a solid (by Archimedes’ principle ).
2. Test tube
A type of tube, similar to the test tube but without a base, into which liquids, solutions, or samples are usually poured to analyze or experiment with.
3. Rack / grid
When we use test tubes, it is necessary to be able to leave them in a fixed place from which to work, given that they do not have a support base. That is why a grid or rack can be very useful to deposit them, especially when we have several samples.
Although the first laboratories did not have this material, the invention of the microscope was a revolution at the scientific level, allowing the examination of matter, its composition and structure and its interaction with the environment at a level that was indistinguishable from the human eye. Today there are few laboratories that do not have one.
5. Petri dish
Small round, transparent container with a lid, which is commonly used to place tissue, bacteria and cell samples to later generate cultures.
Similar to the previous one, a slide is generally a small and thin glass or plastic plate in which a minimum portion of the sample to be analyzed (for example, a drop of blood) is placed, in order to be able to observe it by the microscope.
Laboratory instrument generally made of glass or plastic that allows us to measure the volume of a substance that we can pour in a controlled way from one of its ends, being able to easily determine the amount of substance that has come out of it.
An elongated instrument similar to a mixture between a test tube and a funnel, the burette allows the volume of a liquid or solution to be determined, as well as a handle or stopcock to allow the regulation of the flow of the liquid.
A larger container, usually shaped like a test tube with a flared closed end, is used to hold, mix, or distill substances. They exist of diverse types, being one of the best known the one of Erlenmeyer.
10. Stirrer / mixer
A stirrer is understood to be any instrument that allows the uniform mixing of the samples with which it is worked through its movement. Traditionally a rod was used, but nowadays there are electronic mixers or with different mechanisms.
Especially in chemistry, there are often different types of funnels which allow the different compounds to be mixed in a controlled manner or to separate solids from liquids. The decantation feature stands out (which allows you to regulate the amount of substance that is filtered with a handle).
Being able to accurately weigh what we are studying is basic in a large number of scientific disciplines, which is why a scale or balance (currently being mostly digital) are basic instruments.
Tweezers are very necessary in a laboratory, generally in order to hold a specific instrument or move some elements of the samples that we are analyzing.
Especially in sciences such as medicine or chemistry, it may be necessary to make precise cuts to reach or separate a sample of the matter to be analyzed (for example to do a biopsy). In this sense a scalpel can be useful.
With an appearance similar to that of a round knife, it is a useful instrument to collect small solids in powder form.
Sometimes it may be necessary to file an object or material in order to extract a small sample or even to cut a specific material.
Something as basic as a teaspoon is also a useful instrument in a laboratory, especially if we are making some type of solution that requires the use of a powdered chemical element.
Cleaning laboratory equipment, both before and after using it, is something essential that in fact can greatly alter the results of experimentation or analysis. That is why a brush that allows for example to clean flasks or test tubes is essential.
19. Wash bottle
In general, in order to clean the material used, we will need something more than the brush, being necessary to apply water to clean it. The washing bottle is usually filled with distilled water or some type of alcohol, allowing a comfortable application on the instruments.
20. Lighter / lighter / stove
In many experiments and with many substances and chemical reactions, it may be necessary to heat the components to be used, or even cause them to ignite. Obviously we are talking about our own laboratory material, not the day-to-day employees.
Knowing the temperature at which a substance or sample is can be essential to be able to study it correctly or even to be able to preserve it (for example in the case of organs or living cells such as sperm). In this sense, the use of some type of thermometer is useful.
Another instrument that, although extremely simple, is common in different types of laboratory. However, it must be taken into account that the amount of substance that is expelled can be more or less precise and that different instruments can sometimes have the same function (such as the handle on a separatory funnel).
This instrument may seem obvious, but the truth is that the computing power of a computer makes it possible to record and even automate specific processes to be used during experimentation with a level of precision and detail that could take a human being much more time to achieve.
- Atkins J. and Jones, L. (2012). Principles of Chemistry. The paths of discovery, 5th Ed. Editorial Médica Panamericana, Madrid.
- Bawer JD. (nineteen ninety six). Clinical Analysis, Methods and Interpretation. Barcelona. Ed. I reversed.