Microliter Definition and Example

How Small Is a Microliter?

Microliter volumes are commonly dispensed using a micropipette into an eppendorf tube.
Microliter volumes are commonly dispensed using a micropipette into an eppendorf tube. TEK IMAGE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

While the liter is the standard metric unit of volume, it's much too large to use in certain laboratory situations. Other common units include the milliliter and microliter.

Microliter Definition

A microliter is a unit of volume equal to 1/1,000,000th of a liter (one-millionth). A microliter is one cubic millimeter.

The symbol for microliter is μl or μL.

1 μL = 10-6 L = 10-3 mL.

Alternate Spellings: microlitre
Plural: microliters, microlitres

The microliter is a small volume, yet measurable in a typical laboratory. An example of when you might use microliter volumes would be in preparation of an electrophoresis sample, when isolating DNA, or during chemical purification. Microliters are measured and dispensed using micropipettes.

"My sample had a volume of 256 μL."

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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Microliter Definition and Example." ThoughtCo, Jan. 8, 2018, thoughtco.com/definition-of-microliter-605344. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2018, January 8). Microliter Definition and Example. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/definition-of-microliter-605344 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Microliter Definition and Example." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/definition-of-microliter-605344 (accessed February 21, 2018).