Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Cellular Guide to Pipettes

What is a pipette?

Types of Pipettes (I took this picture)

There are lot of things that fall under the category of "pipette" and I found this a source of much confusion in my early graduate school days. Even after I knew by context what 'hand me the pipette' meant, I had a hell of a time trying to order the right type of pipette from scientific supply companies. 

So I am going to do you all a service, and give you a guide to pipette types: 

Labeled pipette types (I took this picture)
Basically, things that are long and skinny and can suck up certain amounts of liquid are called pipettes. 

Pipet-Aid: I think this is the brand name, but I didn't know what else to call it. It is battery powered and sucks liquid through an electrical vacuum. 

Serological pipet: This attaches to the pipet-aid and is calibrated for certain amounts of liquid. We use it for 10-25 mL volumes. 

Pipettor/pipette tip: This is the thing that I find most commonly referred to as a 'pipette.' They usually take smaller amounts (from microliters up to 5 milliliters) than the pipet-aid.

Pen: Do not try to use this as a pipette...or a pen. It's more 'cute' than it is 'able to write.'

Large transfer pipettes: These are plastic with squeeze-bulbs at the end.  They are not good for precise volumes of liquid like the others so far, but they are a quick easy way to transfer liquid from one place to another. We cut off the tip of the larger kind and use it to gently transfer brain slices into incubation chambers. 

Small transfer pipettes: I bought these on accident trying to replenish our supply of large transfer pipettes (#overlyhonestmethods). Now we use them to remove bubbles from the incubation chamber.

Pasteur pipette: These are glass and have detachable squeeze bulbs. I am not really sure what people use them for generally, but we have them in the lab left over from previous experiments. I use them to fill my pH meter with KCl and that's about it.  

Micropipette: This is a tiny pipette used for electrophysiology. The tip is so small that you can only see the opening under a relatively powerful microscope. The opening is smaller than the soma of a neuron, and I use these to patch onto brain cells. 

So there you have it: the ultimate guide to types of pipettes. I hope that one day this guide will save someone 20 minutes of online searching. 

If I missed some kind of pipette, please let me know! 

1 comment:

  1. You forgot the multipipettor (which is just like a pipettor but with 6,8 or 12 places for tips. This is mostly useful for 96 well plates.
    There's also the multidispenser - it is a pipettor that allows you to upload a large quantity of volume (e.g. 10ml) and dispense a set precise quantity (e.g. 0.4ml) multiple times.