Laboratory material: 23 essential objects and instruments
Most of the scientific advances of recent centuries have been able to be carried out 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 usually carried out in some type of laboratory, where there are enough elements and conditions to generate experiments that can check or analyze samples, as well as reproduce in controlled conditions the phenomena or situations to study.
And in this context highlights the need for adequate equipment and sufficient laboratory equipment . Throughout this article we will talk about the different elements that make up the latter, at least as regards the most basic of what is usually available in general.
Laboratory material: basic objects
We can understand by laboratory material the set of tools and instruments that a laboratory needs to be able to carry out the necessary research or experimentation in order to generate knowledge and analyze the phenomenon of reality that is being studied.
Keep in mind that there are a variety of laboratory types , each of them requiring specialized material in the field of study in which they work: does not require the same type of material from a physics laboratory as chemistry, for example. The material that we indicate below is what is usually considered the most basic and most associated with the laboratory prototype, perhaps with an orientation towards chemistry, biology and medicine.
1. Test tube
This small transparent tube, which has a base that supports it, has as its main function to measure the volume of a liquid or a solid (by the principle of Archimedes).
2. Test tube
A type of tube, similar to the test tube but without a base, in which liquids, solutions or samples to analyze or experiment are usually poured.
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 base of support. 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 supposed a revolution at scientific level, allowing to examine the matter, its composition and structure and its interaction with the environment at a level indistinguishable to the human eye. Nowadays there are few laboratories that do not have any.
5. Petri dish
Small round container, transparent and with lid, which is usually used in order to place samples of tissues, bacteria and cells to subsequently generate crops.
6. Storage slides
Similar to the previous one, a slide is usually a small and thin glass or plastic plate in which a minimum portion of the sample to be analyzed is placed (for example, a drop of blood), in order to be able to observe it by the microscope.
Instrument of laboratory generally of glass or plastic that allows to measure the volume of a substance that we can pour of controlled way by one of its ends, being able to easily determine the amount of substance that has left it.
Instrument elongated similar to a mixture between test tube and funnel, the burette allows to determine the volume of a liquid or solution at the same time that it has a handle or stopcock to allow the regulation of the passage of the liquid.
Larger container and usually in the form of a test tube with the closed end widened, is used to contain substances, mix or distill them. They exist of diverse types, being one of the most known the one of Erlenmeyer.
10. Agitator / mixer
An agitator is any instrument that allows the uniform mixing of the samples with which it is worked through its movement. Traditionally used a rod, but currently there are electronic mixers or with different mechanisms.
Especially in chemistry, it is common that there are several types of funnels which allow to mix in a controlled manner the different compounds or in order to separate solids from liquids. It stands out the one of decantation (that allows to regulate with a handle the amount of substance that is filtering).
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.
The 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 material to be analyzed (for example to make 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 for collecting small solids in the form of dust.
Sometimes it may be necessary to file an object or material to extract a small sample or even to cut a particular material.
Something as basic as a spoon is also a useful instrument in a laboratory, especially if we are making some kind of solution that requires the use of some chemical element in powder form.
18. Toilet brush
The cleaning of the laboratory material, both before and after using it, is something fundamental that can in fact greatly alter the results of the experimentation or analysis. That is why a brush that allows for example cleaning flasks or test tubes is a must.
19. Wash bottle
In general, in order to clean the material used, we will need 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 in the instruments.
20. Cigarette lighter / burner / 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 burn. Obviously we are talking about laboratory material, not employees on a day-to-day basis.
Knowing the temperature at which a substance or sample is present may be fundamental to be able to study it correctly or even to preserve it (for example, in the case of living organs or cells such as sperm cells). In this sense the use of some type of thermometer is useful.
Another instrument that, although extremely simple, is common in different types of laboratories. However, it must be borne in mind that the amount of substance that is expelled may be more or less precise and that different instruments can sometimes have the same function (such as the handle in a separatory funnel).
Perhaps this instrument seems obvious, but the fact is that the computing capacity of a computer allows to record and even automate concrete processes to be used during experimentation with a level of precision and detail that a human being could spend much longer to achieve.
- Atkins J. and Jones, L. (2012). Principles of Chemistry. The roads of discovery, 5th Ed. Editorial Panamericana Medical, Madrid.
- Bawer JD. (nineteen ninety six). Clinical Analysis, Methods and Interpretation. Barcelona. Ed. Reverté.