A centrifuge is a piece of equipment that puts an object in rotation around a fixed axis (spins it in a circle), applying a potentially strong force perpendicular to the axis of spin (outward). The centrifuge works using thesedimentation principle, where the centripetal acceleration causes denser substances and particles to move outward in the radial direction. At the same time, objects that are less dense are displaced and move to the center. In a laboratory centrifuge that uses sample tubes, the radial acceleration causes denser particles to settle to the bottom of the tube, while low-density substances rise to the top

A centrifuge machine can be described as a machine with a rapidly rotating container that applies centrifugal force to its contents. There are multiple types of centrifuge, which can be classified by intended use or by rotor design:

Types by rotor design:

  • Fixed-angle centrifuges are designed to hold the sample containers at a constant angle relative to the central axis.
  • Swinging head (or swinging bucket) centrifuges, in contrast to fixed-angle centrifuges, have a hinge where the sample containers are attached to the central rotor. This allows all of the samples to swing outwards as the centrifuge is spun.
  • Continuous tubular centrifuges do not have individual sample vessels and are used for high volume applications.

Types by intended use:

  • Laboratory centrifuges, are general-purpose instruments of several types with distinct, but overlapping, capabilities. These include clinical centrifuges, superspeed centrifuges and preparative ultracentrifuges.
  • Analytical ultracentrifuges are designed to perform sedimentation analysis of macromolecules using the principles devised by Theodor Svedberg.
  • Haematocrit centrifuges are used to measure the volume percentage of red blood cells in whole blood.
  • Gas centrifuges, including Zippe-type centrifuges, for isotopic separations in the gas phase
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