Biology is a diverse field of science. Every day new discoveries at different levels help the scientists generate new knowledge about the existing living world. For this purpose, the scientists perform a number of experiments every day at the laboratory. To facilitate these tasks and experiments, the biologists, biology students, and scientists make use of a number of laboratory equipment and instruments. These instruments help in the proper implementation and observation of the experiments without compromising the security and safety of the people.
Biology Laboratory Apparatus
Some of the major laboratory apparatus used at a biology laboratory include the following:
A microscope is one of the most common apparatus used in biology laboratories. It is mainly used to magnify small objects. To observe a specimen at the cellular level, a sample is taken and studied at the micro-level with the help of a microscope. It also helps to observe the shape and structure of a cell, distinguish various parts of a cell from each other, identify their particular functions, and determine the prime characteristics of microorganisms. A microscope is helpful to study almost all types of pathogens, bacteria, and viruses. This enables scientists and microbiologists to learn about nature and find a cure for a particular disease.
Beaker is a cylindrical container that has a small spout and a flat base. The small spout helps to pour solutions with minimum spillage. Beakers come in a variety of shapes. Mostly, beakers are used to contain and store solutions. They are also used in combination with a burette to perform the titration process. Some of the beakers also contain a graduated scale attached to its exterior that helps to note the quantity of solution.
Crucible is a small container made up of ceramic or metal. A crucible is able to withstand high temperatures, and therefore, it is generally used to melt elements. One of the most common applications of crucibles lies in gravimetric chemical analysis.
4. Test Tubes
A test tube is a glass or plastic container that has a hemispherical base. The shape of a test tube is analogous to the shape of a human finger. The main purpose of a test tube is to hold, mix, and heat chemical substances and solutions. A test tube is also known as a sample tube or a culture tube.
5. Magnifying Glass
The magnifying glass is yet another most commonly used laboratory equipment. It consists of a convex lens fixed within a circular metallic loop and is attached to a metallic or wooden handle. The main purpose of a magnifying glass is that it provides an enlarged image of the object placed beneath it. A magnifying glass is preferred when it is required to study fine details of a substance. A magnifying glass is also able to focus the radiations falling on its surface to a single point. All the rays are concentrated on a point, thereby producing a hot spot, which can be further used to initiate fire.
6. Bunsen Burner
Bunsen burner is one of the most important laboratory instruments. It is named after German chemist Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen. It is a gas burner that produces a single open gas flame. A number of chemical reactions take place in the presence of fire. Bunsen burner acts as a source of heat to perform such experiments and reactions. It is also used to perform physical phenomena such as heating, boiling, melting, sterilization, and combustion. Gases such as liquified petroleum gas, propane, butane, natural gas, etc., can be used as fuel to the bunsen burner.
The flasks used in laboratories are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can have a curved, conical, or flat structure with a flat base attached to a cylindrical top. Flasks are generally made up of glass or plastic and are used to store the solutions. Other uses of a flask include mixing of fluids, titration, etc. A flask may also be attached with a graduated scale to keep a record of the amount of solution poured into it.
8. Filter Paper
Filter papers are usually made up of cotton fibres. The key component used in the manufacturing of filter paper is cellulose. The main purpose of filter paper is to separate fine particles of substances from liquids or gases. The pores of the filter paper are fine enough to allow the liquid and gas molecules to pass through it easily but act as a barrier to solid particles, thereby blocking and capturing them.
A dropper consists of a glass tube that has a small opening at one end and is attached to a vacuum rubber bulb at the other end. A dropper is used when it is required to control the amount of solution being added to a reaction. To fill the dropper with a solution, the vacuum bulb is pressed and the open tip of the dropper is dipped into the container that contains the solution. The dropper must be properly immersed into the solution. When the vacuum bulb is released, the solution gets sucked into the glass tube. On pressing the bulb, the solution can be poured drop by drop. A dropper is also used as a medicine dropper.
The thermometer is one of the most crucial laboratory equipment. These are the sensing devices that are used to determine the current temperature of an object. Different types of thermometers used in laboratories include mechanical, differential, and logging thermometers. Laboratory thermometers have a high level of precision as compared to clinical or general thermometers. A clinical thermometer cannot be used for industrial or laboratory purposes as it will cause a significant loss in the accuracy of the observed results. They are also used for monitoring the progress of an experiment, performing instrument calibration, in materials testing, and maintaining a sterile work environment.
11. Weighing Machine
A weighing balance is used to determine the mass or weight of certain objects. Most of the weighing instruments used in laboratories are electronically powered. These machines come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The weighing machines used in laboratories are compact and portable. The weighing capacity of such machines can be selected according to need.
12. Crucible Tongs
Lifting or picking up hot objects directly with hands is difficult, risky, and may cause severe injuries, which is why tongs are used to grip and lift such objects. Tongs are metallic scissors-shaped laboratory instruments. The only difference is that the blades of tongs are blunt and curved, while the blades of scissors have a sharp edge and are straight. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes to pick different objects such as heated crucibles, beakers, dishes, or flasks.
The main task of a brush is to clean objects. Laboratory brushes are specifically designed to clean instruments that have a narrow opening such as test tubes, flasks, etc.
A spatula is a laboratory utensil mainly used for mixing substances into a solution, stirring the solution, and scrapping objects. It is shaped like a spoon and is generally made up of carbon steel, stainless steel, porcelain, etc. It also consists of an insulator handle that allows the user to have a firm grip and avoid injuries.
15. Spring Balance
A spring balance is yet another measuring instrument used in most laboratories. It consists of a hook and a graduated scale. The inner mechanical arrangement and working of a spring balance are typically based on the spring action of metals. When the load is attached to the hook of the spring balance, the hook connected to the spring gets displaced from its original position and moves linearly in a downward direction due to the gravitational pull of the earth. The graduated scale then displays the weight of the object.
16. Wash Bottles
Wash bottles are bottles attached with a nozzle typically made up of LDPE material. These bottles are mainly used to rinse various laboratory glassware. The material used for the manufacturing of laboratory wash bottles is flexible in nature that allows the user to adjust the water pressure as per the need by squeezing the bottle accordingly.
A burette is one of the most common laboratory equipment used in chemistry and biology laboratories to perform a titration. A burette is a long glass tube that consists of a graduated scale attached to its curved body, a nozzle at one end to dispense solution, an open-end to pour the solution, and a tap or a valve attached to the base that is used to control the flow of the solution. The main purpose of a burette is to dispense the liquid in a controlled manner.
A pipette is a glass tube commonly used to transport a measured amount of liquid to a container. A pipette is designed in such a way that it is broad in the middle and consists of narrow ends. A mark present at the top portion of the pipette indicates the amount of liquid contained by it. A pipette is available in a number of sizes; therefore, different pipettes are used to transfer different volumes of liquid.
The main purpose of a funnel is to channel or direct the flow of liquid in a particular direction. In the absence of a funnel, there may be chances of spilling the solution in the surroundings. The structure of a funnel resembles a cone attached to a cylinder. The materials generally used to construct a funnel include glass, porcelain, plastic, etc. A funnel is also used to separate two immiscible solutions of different densities.
20. Watch Glass
A watch glass is a circular piece of concave glass that is used to evaporate a liquid, hold a specimen to be studied or weighed, cover a beaker, heat a small amount of substance, etc.
21. Litmus Paper
Litmus paper is a special type of paper made up of wood cellulose infused with litmus, which is a water-soluble mixture of different dyes extracted from lichens. Litmus papers used in laboratories are typically cut in the shape of strips and are used as a pH indicator. The main function of a litmus paper is to determine that whether the given solution is acidic or basic.
22. Safety Apparatus Kit
Safety apparatus kit is the most common apparatus found in almost all types of laboratories. Various safety equipment present in a safety apparatus kit includes safety goggles, gloves, lab coats, etc. They protect the scientists working in the laboratory from severe injuries and helps to prevent mishaps and accidents.
23. Dissecting Tool Kit
A dissecting toolkit is one of the most important apparatus used in biology laboratories. It is used to dissect animals such as frogs, fetal pigs, mice, etc. It consists of all the necessary tools required to carry out the process of dissection such as a catheter, groove probe, scalpel, surgical scissors (straight and curved), mayo scissors (straight and curved), dissecting forceps (with and without teeth), dissecting pin, etc.
24. Hot Plate
A hot plate is a device that consists of a flat plate attached to an electronic heating mechanism. The main aim of a hot plate is to evenly heat a substance or sample placed on the top of it. The advantage of using a hot plate in place of a bunsen burner is that a hot plate does not make use of flammable fuel, thereby minimizing the chances of accidents. Also, the temperature of a bunsen burner cannot be determined easily, but the temperature of a hot plate gets recorded and displayed in digital format on the indicator attached to the device and can be controlled easily.
Forceps are the tweezers, typically made up of metals, which are used to hold or pick up small objects. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. It consists of two tapered strips of metals attached to each other at one end. The angle between the two strips is maintained in such a way that when a force is applied to the middle portion of forceps, it gets squeezed and grips the object present in the middle of the open edges. The edges of the forceps can either be pointed or flat.
26. Evaporating Dish
An evaporating dish is one of the prime apparatuses used at a laboratory. It is a small and shallow utensil that has a pinched lip to pour the liquids properly. The materials used to manufacture an evaporating dish generally include porcelain, ceramic, glass, or silicon. It is mainly used for small scale separation of solute from solution through the physical process of crystallization. For this purpose, the solution is poured into the evaporating dish, the solvent gets evaporated, thereby concentrating the solution.
27. Measuring Cylinders
A measuring cylinder is a common laboratory instrument that is used to measure the amount of solution poured into it. As the name suggests, a measuring cylinder is a hollow glass cylinder with a flat base and a graduated scale attached to its curved boundary.
28. Dissecting Pans
Dissecting pans or trays are one of the most essential equipment required at a biology laboratory. While analysing the internal structure of an organism or a specimen, a dissecting pan is used to hold the sample and allows the scientist study the characteristics of the sample with clarity. Dissecting trays are typically made up of aluminium and consist of a layer of paraffin wax. They also include odour absorbent pads to lock the foul smell.
Coverslips are the small square or circle shaped thin glass sheets that are used to cover the specimens that are under observation. It is also used to protect the microscope and prevent the slide from drying by locking the moisture. The placement of coverslips on the sample should be done with utmost care in such a way that air bubbles do not get trapped under the glass sheet. To properly cover the specimen with a coverslip, a few drops of water are poured on the sample to prevent it from drying and sticking to the base of the glass sheet. The edge of the coverslip is then placed on the sample and is gently lowered with the help of a pointed tool.
30. Inoculating Loops
Inoculating loops are made up of platinum or nichrome wire. The tip of such a wire is shaped like a small loop that is about 5 mm in diameter. The main purpose of the inoculating loops is to pick up, separate, and transfer small pieces of a sample from a culture of microorganisms. An inoculating loop is also known as a smear loop, inoculation wand, or microstreaker. They are available in both disposable or reusable forms.
31. Petri Dishes
A petri dish is a shallow, transparent, cylinder-shaped lidded dish. A petri dish is mainly used to culture different types of cells including bacteria, fungi, moulds, etc. It is mainly made up of glass or plastic and consists of a thin layer of agar that provides a nutritional medium in which the cells can grow.
32. Centrifuge Machine
A centrifuge machine is a laboratory device that is mainly used to separate fluids (gases and liquids) on the basis of their density. A centrifuge machine mainly works on the basis of spinning. It consists of a vessel that spins at a high speed. The material poured into the spinning vessel experiences a significant amount of centrifugal force that pushes heavy substances to the outer side, leaving the light particles in the middle of the vessel. The heavy and light substances, therefore, get separated.
Scoopula, used in most biology laboratories, is quite similar to that of a spatula. These are the long metallic strips that have a curved structure. Scoopulas are mainly used to scoop and transfer solids to a weigh paper, a watch glass, a graduated cylinder, a flask, or a coverslip.