What is pipetting? A simple rundown of the lab’s most fundamental job.
Most lab workers got their first experience pipetting in high school. Some still do it every day. This is pipetting.
Pipetting is the process of using a pipette, whether it's a plastic pipette or a glass pipette, to measure or transfer a small volume of a liquid sample.
The liquid sample measured by the pipette is in volumes of milliliters (mL) or microliters (μL). Some pipettes can measure liquids starting at 1 μL (if that's your desired volume).
The traditional pipette (sometimes also called a "pipet") has been around since the 18th century when the chemist Francois Descroizilles invented the alkalimeter. Later, scientist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac modified the alkalimeter and called it a “pipette.” If you thought the term sounded French, you were right.
Pipetting is used to measure and relocate liquids in a variety of applications such as:
All of these applications require a high level of accuracy when moving a liquid sample from one vessel to another, allowing lab technicians to reproduce the precision in each result.
A body that houses a solution
A spring within the body that controls the plunger
A volume indicator (tells you the minimum to maximum volume a pipette can hold)
A shaft for a disposable pipette tip
A plunger (the thing that forces the measured volume of liquid out)
A tip ejector and a tip ejector button to get rid of the disposable tip
A thumbwheel (also known as a fine volume adjustment ring meant to control the fixed volume of solution)
A push-button with two depressions (two levels to push the button down to, to work out air bubbles, dispose of remaining liquid, or for other manual pipetting processes)
A volume display (often shown along the pipette barrel)
These components work together to create the pipette, allowing you to accurately measure an exact volume and safely dispense liquids and semi-liquids in your laboratory.
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