Here’s a handy dandy tool that no lab should be without. It slices and dices… Well, it doesn’t really dice, but all kidding aside, the Microtome is the perfect tool used to cut extremely thin slices of material (or sections) allowing for the preparation of samples for observation. The Richard-Allan Microtome Finesse 325 pictured to the left is a rotary, table top model using Disposable blades or standard microtome knives. The rotary arm is balanced as to minimize the risk of repedative injury and at the same time, designed for reproducible sections throughout the length of specimen. Many microtomes use steel, glass, or diamond blades depending upon the specimen being sliced and the desired thickness of the sections being cut.
One of the first devices for the preparation of such cuts was invented in 1770 by George Adams, Jr. (1750–1795) and further developed by Alexander Cummings. The device was hand operated, and the sample held in a cylinder and sections created from the top of the sample using a hand crank. In 1835, Andrew Prichard developed a table based model which allowed for the vibration to be isolated by affixing the device to the table, separating the operator from the knife. In the beginning, sections of plants and animals were manually prepared using razor blades. It was quickly determined that to observe the structure of the specimen under observation it was important to make clean, reproducible cuts. and to achieve sections that cutting by hand could not possibly create. Microtome sections can now be made thin enough to section a human hair across its breadth, with section thickness between 50 nm and 100 µm.
The Microtome displayed in this blog features an integral debris tray, removable cassette organizer storage tray, and a resettable section counter. Disposable blades or standard microtome knives may be used along with the appropriate knife holder.
We encourage you to contact our knowledgeable staff with any questions that you may have or if we can be of further assistance.