Microtomes are the most often used apparatus/instrument in histology labs for obtaining sample slices for further microscopic inspection. Knife clamps, a sample container, a thickness gauge, and other accessories are included. It is a mechanical device that moves the sample towards the blade/knife in micron-sized increments to acquire the necessary thickness section (thickness of the section mostly ranges from 5-10 nm). One of the most significant equipment in microtomy processes is the knife (microtome knife). In most cases, a wedge (C type) knife is utilised to cut the sample piece during a standard microtomy process. In addition to knives, there are two types of disposable blades on the market: low profile blades and high profile blades.
Microtomes are important in research because they are employed in microscopy to prepare samples for examination under transmitted light or electron radiation. Depending on the specimen being sliced and the required thickness of the pieces being cut, microtomes employ steel, glass, or diamond blades. For light microscopy, steel blades are used to create histological slices of animal or plant tissues. Sections for light microscopy and very thin sections for electron microscopy are cut with glass blades. For optical and electron microscopy, industrial grade diamond knives are used to slice hard objects such as bone, teeth, and stiff plant matter. Slicing thin slices for electron microscopy is also done using gem-quality diamond blades.
Microtomy is an alternative to electropolishing and ion milling for preparing thin portions of materials such as bones, minerals, and teeth. With section thicknesses ranging from 50 nm to 100 m, microtome sections may be created thin enough to segment a human hair across its width.
Applications of Microtomes-
- Traditional Histology Technique
- Frozen section procedure
- Electron Microscopy Technique
- Botanical Microtomy Technique
- Spectroscopy Technique
The laser microtome, which uses a femtosecond laser instead of a mechanical knife to cut the target specimen, is a new advancement. This approach is non-contact and does not need sample preparation. Almost any tissue may be sliced in its natural condition with a laser microtome. Slice thicknesses of 10 to 100 m are possible depending on the material being treated.
Types of Microtomes-