Freezing microtome, London, England, 1883-1885
Invented in 1881, this type of freezing microtome used ice and salt to freeze animal and plant specimens to be sliced for microscope slides. Ice and salt were replaced by a removable ether spray in 1883. Freezing hardened and preserved the specimens’ structure quickly. Chemical preservation usually took six weeks but by using ether the process took a matter of seconds. Once frozen, a razor, operated by hand and secured by a tripod, moved across the top of specimen, creating slices. The slices were then mounted, stained and studied under the microscope by histologists. The knife and tubing is missing.
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Techniques and Technologies:
The study of the structure of tissues by means of special staining techniques combined with light and electron microscopy.
Glossary: Valentin knife
used to cut slices of organs for microscopic examination
Glossary: freezing microtome
An instrument in which tissue is frozen using ice salt or ether before being sliced in order to be examined under a microscope.
An instrument used to cut thin sections of biological material so that they can be examined under a microscope.
A volatile liquid (resulting from the action of sulphuric acid upon alcohol) formerly used as an anaesthetic. Ether was usually inhaled.