The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Joint Institute for Advanced Materials

About the Ultramicrotome

Image reproduced with courtesy of Leica MicrosystemsThe Ultramicrotome Leica EM UC7 provides easy preparation of semi- and ultrathin sections as well as perfect, smooth surfaces of biological and industrial samples for TEM, SEM, AFM and LM examination.

Combining ergonomic design and innovative technology the Ultramicrotome Leica EM UC7 sets new standards in Ultramicrotomy. It offers a range of outstanding features and benefits of use for the ultramicrotomist, whether highly skilled or absolute beginners.

Using the Microtome

For a visual aid on the microtome, watch the Leica EM UC7 Showcase Video.


  • By pressing this button the motor of the specimen arm movement will be switched on or off.


  • By touching this this button followed by by the button in question on the touch screen, the appropriate function will be described.

Cutting Window

  • Set the cutting window with buttons START and END.
  • The length of the cutting window on the EM UC7 has to be set the following way. Turn the hand wheel so the specimen is in the forward cutting stroke.
  • Move the lower edge of the block face by means of the hand wheel to approximately 1mm above the knife edge.
  • Press the button START.
  • Now, move the block-face down until the upper edge of the block face is below the knife edge.
  • Press the button END. This can be done for cutting window sizes from 0.2mm to 14mm.


  • Memory lines: By touching the “memory” lines displayed on the touch screen, the microtome will use the stored values when sectioning your samples.

Set Cutting Speed and Feed

  • Rotate knob to adjust speed of the specimen between 0.05 and 100mm/sec and feed between  1nm and 15 micrometers. These values will be indicated in the “active values” line.

Storing SPEED/FEED values

  • Set speed and feed by turning the knobs.
  • Then, press STO followed by one of the five memory lines.

Knife Approach

  • Coarse control with the track wheel and jog control by using STEP buttons. If continuous approach is enabled (menu) the knife stage will move towards the specimen while STEP is pressed. Continuous return of the knife stage can be achieved while STEP to the north is pressed.

Return Speed

  • During the return stroke the specimen is automatically retracted by approx. 0.2 mm so that the cutting edge of the knife is not touched by the specimen in the return stroke.


  • The advance indicator/reset control is displayed at the top of the touchscreen. Each mark indicates the beginning of 20 micrometers of the specimen arm feed. When the last indication mark lights up, an acoustic signal and blinking alerts the operator of the end of the specimen advance. An automated reset will be performed at the end of the advance (200 micrometers) Instant resetting may be carried out at any time by pressing the reset button.

For more in depth instructions on sample prep using the microtome and miller, check out the videos below.


Using the Cryochamber

Inserting the cryo specimen holder

  • Insert the cryo specimen holder into the specimen arm.
  • Lock the cryo specimen holder with the torque limited screw using an Allen key.

Inserting knives into the knife holder

  • Set the desired clearance angle. Insert the desired knives into holding slots.
  • Lock the knife in place using the locking screws.

Inserting the knife holder

  • Line up the knife plate and the receiving pin in the cryochamber.
  • Insert the rotating knife holder containing knives into the chamber. The knife plate is now in the loaded position. It can only be inserted in the loaded position.

Inserting the specimen

  • Once the cryochamber has cooled to the desired temperature, you may insert the specimen pin into the cryo specimen holder. Be sure to lock the specimen in place using the tightening dial on the front of the specimen holder.
  • Rotate the knife holder into the “trimming position”, and lock the knife plate in place using an Allen key.

For a video on using the cryochamber, check out the video below.



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