Research laboratory

Evolution of sterile environment

A sterile environment for good research results and a safe environment for the researchers!

A sterile environment is often necessary in a research laboratory, especially if the researcher works with living material such as animal cells or microorganisms. In the past, the sterile environment was mainly used to protect the biological specimens from contamination from other microorganisms. Nowadays, the sterile environment is used to protect researchers who work with pathogenic microorganisms. Laboratories can be classified as containment level 1 through 4 with very specific physical and operational requirements. In Canada, the first containment level 4 laboratory opened in Winnipeg at the end of the 1990s.

BurnerMovie ClipMovie Clip
© Armand-Frappier Museum


In the microbiology laboratory, the burner is used to heat instruments to sterilize them. It is also used to create a work environment exempt of microorganisms. This circular space is created around the burner because of the air circulation created by the flame above.

Laminar flow hoodZoomZoom
© Nicole Catellier, Cinémanima

Laminar flow hood

A laminar flow hood (or biological safety hood) creates a work area enclosed in a chamber designed to avoid microbial contamination of biological specimens or other material sensitive to microorganisms. In the back of the chamber, the air passes through a filter and is then diffused in a laminar flow between the user and the work area. The hood is usually made of stainless steel without joints or spaces, to keep out microorganisms. These hoods are equipped with UV lamps that have a germicidal effect in order to sterilize the work area and its contents before use.