What is a micropipette? The smallest version of small lab equipment.

A German scientist’s pipetting frustration becomes an essential laboratory workflow.

A micropipette is a pipette used for measuring small volumes of liquids with a volume range between 1 and 1000µl.

The first micropipette with a spring-loaded piston and removable tip was patented in 1957 by Dr. Heinrich Schnitger in Marburg, Germany after he grew tired of using a glass micropipette and glass pipettes to measure small volumes. 

Micropipettes are useful when working with very small volumes (commonly referred to as microvolumes) of a sample in processes like DNA sequencing.

Micropipettes are usually made of glass and can have a pipette tip aperture as small as 0.1 µm. The tips are microscopic. 

Similar to a traditional pipette, a micropipette is used in a variety of applications like:

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  • Microbiology labs

  • Environmental sciences

  • Medical labs

  • Academic labs

  • Research labs

Micropipettes offer a high level of accuracy and reproducible precision. When selecting a micropipette, always choose the micropipette with the smallest volume range to transfer the desired volume of your liquid. The smaller the volume, the smaller the margin for error. 

That’s why micropipettes come labeled with a standard volume range. Never use a micropipette to measure a desired volume outside of its range.

  • P2: 0.2-2 μL

  • P20: 2-20 μL

  • P200: 20-200 μL

  • P1000: 100-1000 μL

Generally, you can use and maintain a micropipette the same way you’d use and maintain a standard pipette:

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  • Check your micropipette regularly for dirt or other build-up. Dried up particles can cause your micropipette to jam during liquid handling operation.

  • Store your micropipette in a safe, covered area (i.e., don’t leave it on the bench or near other equipment that can damage it).

  • Reset your micropipettes to their maximum settings when you’re not using them to avoid putting extra pressure on their springs and piston.

  • Avoid adjusting your micropipettes unless you absolutely need to. This will slow down wear and tear. 

  • Never reuse a micropipette tip. Reusing micropipette tips causes contamination and skews results by mixing solutions. 

  • Clean the outside of the micropipette using a decontaminant solution as recommended by the manufacturer. Wipe down the micropipette with a lint-free wipe such as a Kimwipe.

However, remember that since micropipettes measure a sample in small volumes or micro volumes (such as a microliter), so make sure your reports and other documentation reflect that.

To learn more about how to use and maintain your micropipettes, always consult your micropipette manufacturer’s instructions for use and maintenance, and follow your laboratory’s operating procedures. 

Feeling precise? Prepare yourself for micropipetting with the right equipment.