Sample preparation is a primary step of any analysis. Sample preparation – good or bad – has a major impact on ultimate analytical results. Our experts use embedding followed by microtomy to produce thin sections and faced blocks. These can provide critical insight into questions related to failure analysis, quality control, forensic comparisons, and litigation. Ultramicrotomy, a specific subset of microtomy, is a clean and efficient method for producing ultra-thin sections of samples using glass or diamond knives. Microtrace’s ultramicrotome (Leica Ultracut UCT) uses traditional knives or a vibratory knife. These are capable of cutting ultra-thin sections of specimens while minimizing sample artifacts.
Microtomy is useful for the preparation of a wide-variety of samples. These include biological specimens, thin films, rubbers, paints and polymers, and harder materials such as minerals and metals. Our staff have experience and training in a wide range of materials and embedding processes.
Applications of Ultramicrotomy
The ultramicrotome most commonly assists with the preparation of samples for transmission electron microscopy (TEM), since it can cut sections to 10’s of nanometers in thickness. Furthermore, Microtrace’s Leica Ultracut UTC can produce specimens with a relatively large and homogeneous electron-transparent area. Our staff have undergone specialized training and developed vast practical experience with techniques covering a wide range of materials. These techniques include: small particle manipulation, embedding, cutting, and mounting related to the preparation of ultrathin sections. Following microtomy, our scientists can coat or stain (for biological specimens) samples and then image them directly. We can also use the ultramicrotome to create a mirror-smooth surface (a faced block). The resulting surface allows for light or electron imaging of features that do not require thin sections. In some cases, our experts use cross section ion polishing as a complementary preparation method.
Perhaps you have a specific approach for embedding and sectioning your samples and you are looking for a service laboratory with ultramicrotomy capabilities. Or maybe, you have a problem where microtomy may be applicable. Please contact Microtrace to discuss the potential value of microtomy to your project.