top of page

katana microtome

A microtome that transforms a normal SEM to a volume SEM



At a mere 56mm high, katana fits almost any modern SEM chamber. Compact design ensures quick setup and removal.

ultrasonic (2).png

Oscillation at large amplitudes to improve cutting performance.

Feedback loop for optimal frequency tuning.

nanometer (1).png

Precise, repeatable Z stepping with 1 nm resolution for accurate 3D reconstruction. 

approach (2).png

Tracking mechanism allows moving diamond edge always stay focus.

High frame rate camera gives crisp, low latency view.

open source.png

Compatible with any SEM control software.

Integration with SBEMImage and SEMSupporter.

Easy integration with multiple image modalities to create correlative workflows.


Generous Z-travel range accommodates samples over 1 mm. An ultra-fast motor ensures hundreds of microns clearance between the sample and blade after each cut, reducing debris attracted to block surface.

Just 56 mm in height, katana microtome is engineered to comfortably fit a vast range of SEMs. We've prioritised ease of installation in our design approach. The device seamlessly attaches or detaches from an SEM stage with all electronic signals conveniently routed through  a single connector. Our user-centric design ensures a swift and hassle-free transition from your regular SEM to a volume SEM, and vice versa.

Universal Compatibility

56 mm

Picture 4_edited.png

150 mm

Watch: Experience the simplicity of Starting volume EM imaging with katana

Ultrasonic Oscillation for Unparalleled Precision

The diamond knife at ultrasonic speeds dramatically reduces cutting force and improves surface texture. The FEA optimised knife's design allows a in-plane oscillation at amplitudes reaching up to 200 nm. These oscillations are continuously monitored with a feedback loop, enabling the fine-tuning of the oscillation mode to adapt to different knife holders and samples.

The images on the left shows the effect of knife oscillation on 25 nm ultra-thin cutting performance of pigment granules in a squid skin chromatophore. Without knife oscillation, softer pigment granules are pulled out of the block by the knife. This behaviour is immediately prevented when oscillation is turned on.

Nanometre Precision

A precise and repeatable stepping motion in Z-direction is crucial to produce accurate Z scaling in final 3D volume data. The position of our sample stage - driven by an ultra-fast motor - is measured constantly by a ONE nanometre resolution encoder so that any drift can be instantly corrected.


The accompanied benefits are:

1) Debris mitigation: as the knife retracts after each cut, the sample can drop hundreds of microns away from the removed material. This reduces the chance of debris falling onto the block surface by electrostatic force;

2) Reduced working distance: samples can move closer to the detector during imaging, thereby improving the collection of backscattered electrons and thus signal-to-noise ratio.


  • 1 nm Z stage resolution at closed-loop
  • 1.3 mm Z travel range
  • 1.5 mm wide Diatome diamond blade at 45 degree
  • Knife oscillation amplitude up 200 nm
  • Tunable knife oscillation frequency up to 100 kHz
  • Minimum working distance 3 mm from sample to detector
  • Dimension: 135 x 66 x 56 (H) mm
  • Any SEM that can fit 56 mm under the pole piece
  • Automation with all SEM software
  • SBEMImage integration with selected Zeiss, TESCAN and Hitachi SEMs
  • Integration with JEOL SEM Supporter
  • Open interface with other imaging modalities to create correlative workflows
  • ARM Cortex® M7+M4 dual core with remote upgradable firmware
  • Connect to microtome via a single feedthrough cable
  • Dimension: 184 x 107 x 59 mm
Approach camera
  • 40fps 2.3MP CMOS industrial camera with USB3.0 connection
  • Tracking mechanism to ensure knife edge always centred and focused
  • SEM flange and stage adapter
  • 50x aluminium sample pins
  • Cabin-size travel suitcase
  • Spare diamond knife holders
  • Touchscreen laptop
  • Sample height measurement tool
  • Extended warranty up to 3 years
  • Choice of on-site or free remote training
  • Choice of imaging processing training
bottom of page