Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


A laboratory (often abbreviated lab) is a place where scientific research and experiments are conducted.

The equipment in a laboratory will depend on what the lab is used for. Chemistry and biochemistry laboratories will have a lot of glassware and dry chemicals available to prepare buffers and other reagents. They will usually have fumehoods, in which volatile substances, and chemicals that produce poisonous gases can be handled, without risk of inhaling the gas.

Microbiology laboratories also have cabinets with negative pressure to prevent the breathing in of harmful bacteria. These will often pass the air through a number of filters, then pump it back into the room.

Other common laboratory equipment includes centrifuges to remove solid particles from a liquid, spectrophotometers to accurately measure the optical absorbance of a liquid and a particular wavelength (measure its colour), and water baths that maintain a substance at a particular temperature.

Laboratories designed for processing specimens, such as environmental research or medical laboratories will have specialised machinery (automated analysers) designed to process many samples and numerous tests. Research and experimentation is not a priority in these laboratories; the aim is to give a fast and reliable result.

Biochemistry laboratory at the University of Cologne.