Types of laboratory apparatus and their functions

Science laboratories have a lot of apparatus that are used to aid various experiments. Typical apparatus in a particular laboratory may however vary, based on whether it is physics, chemistry, biology or any other type of lab.

Types of Apparatus used in Laboratories and their Functions

Electric Apparatus
Voltmeters measure voltage differentials across electrical circuits. Potentiometers are used to control the power supplied to electronic instruments. Ammeters measure electric current. Multimeters combine various such functions in one apparatus. Electroscope can measure the amount of electric charge on a body. Resistors (or resistance box) provide electric resistance in a circuit. Capacitors are passive components (pair of conductors separated by a dielectric) and can store energy in a circuit. Induction coils are a version of an electric transformer used to produce pulses of high voltage current from a low voltage supply of direct current.

Glass Apparatus
Beakers are containers used for measuring liquid while burettes measure the volume of a solution. Test tubes can hold smaller amounts of the liquid and may also be used to perform small scale experiments. Graduated cylinders and pipettes can measure liquid volume (typically, with 0.1 ml accuracy), while pipettes are also equipped to control liquid flow and help in transferring measured volumes between containers. Condensers collect vaporized liquid when it liquefies during distillation. Funnel (of glass or plastic) are used for transferring liquids between containers without spilling, but may also be used for filtering (if filter paper is also used). Volumetric flasks facilitate measurement of exact liquid volumes or help in preparation of solutions with accurate dilutions.

Other Apparatus
Wash bottles dispense distilled water in small measurable volumes. Watch glasses can be used for a variety of purposes, such as holding small samples, as beaker covers or as evaporating dishes. Clay triangles are wire-frames with porcelain on it, and are used to support crucibles (used to heat small quantity of solid to extremely high temperatures). Burners provide flame and heat. Wire gauzes are put over burners, and ensure that the flame uniformly heats the solution. Forceps can hold small objects, while tongs hold larger ones. Weight balance is used to measure the weight of objects. pH meters measure acidity (or basicity of solutions). Ring stands, clamps and test-tube holders are used for supporting laboratory apparatus.

Centrifuge is used to separate various materials in solution that are of varying density. Tapes, micrometers, screw gauge and calipers are instruments for measuring length. Compass helps in determining the direction. Stop clocks measure time (in milliseconds). Scientific calculators are also used for calculation purposes. Barometers measure atmospheric pressure. Microscopes are used in magnifying and observing objects that are too small to be viewed by the naked eye. Lasers are also used in laboratories for producing electromagnetic radiation.

Temperatures can be measured using thermometers. A variety of thermometers are used in laboratories such as mercury, red spirit or infrared thermometers (specifically used for high temperature measurements).


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