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Ultra Sonic Diamond Knife

More information about DiATOME Ultra Sonic knives - user note.

The DiATOME ultra sonic, the oscillating diamond knife for room temperature ultramicrotomy, was developed in collaboration with Dr Daniel Studer, Lab. of Anatomy, University of Berne. A piezo actuator produces an oscillation of the knife at a desired frequency and amplitude, parallel with the cutting edge. A depression in the foot of the knife allows the oscillation parallel to the cutting edge. The depression is rigid in the north/south direction and guarantees stability in the cutting direction.
The knife produces ultrathin sections almost free of compression. The sections become thinner at the same thickness setting: since the volume of the section remains the same, the increased length leads to a decrease in thickness.

Peripheral nerve (rat)
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Peripheral nerve (rat)
Heart (rat)
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Heart (rat)
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Human keratinocyte
ABS, stained with OsO4
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ABS, stained with OsO4
Impact modified PP
[click to enlarge]
Impact modified PP


Knife angle: 35°
Knife cutting range: 10-80nm
Knife cutting edge length: 3.0mm
Control Unit
Frequency: 25-45kHz, or automatic setting of the resonance
Amplitude: variable (Voltage 0-30V)
Mains voltage: 230V, 110V


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  3. O.L. Reymond: The diamond knife "semi": a substitute for glass or conventional diamond knives in the ultramicrotomy of thin and semi-thin sections. Bas. Applied Histochemistry, No. 30, pp. 487-494, 1986.
  4. Various publications on materials ultramicrotomy. Microscopy Research and Technique, Vol. 31. Number 4, pp. 265-310, 1995.
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  9. K. Richter, H.Gnaegi and J. Dubochet: A model for cryosectioning based on the morphology of vitrified ultrathin sections. Journal of Microscopy, Vol. 163, Pt 1, pp. 19-28, 1991.
  10. C.E. Hsieh, M. Marko, J. Frank and C.A. Mannella: Electron tomographic analysis of frozen-hydrated tissue sections. Journal of Structural Biology 138, pp. 63-73, 2002.
  11. J.R. McIntosh: Electron Microscopy of Cells: A new beginning of a new century. The journal of Cell Biology, Vol. 153, pp. 25-32, 2001.
  12. A. Al-Amoudi, J.Dubochet, H. Gnaegi, W. Lüthi, D.Studer: An oscillating cryo-knife reduces cuttinginduced deformation of vitreous ultrathin sections. Journal of Microscopy, Vol. 212, Pt 1, pp. 26-33, 2003.
  13. D. Studer and H. Gnägi: Minimal compression of ultrathin sections with use of an oscillating diamond knife. Journal of Microscopy, Vol. 197, Pt 1, pp. 94-100, 2000.
  14. J.S. Vastenhout and H.Gnaegi: Ultramicrotomy of polymers using an oscillating knife; improving polymer morphology. Microscopy and Microanalysis. 8 (Suppl. 2) 2002.
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