A microfabricated biopsy/histology instrument which has several advantages over the conventional procedures, including minimal specimen handling, smooth cutting edges with atomic sharpness capable of slicing very thin specimens (approximately 2 .mu.m or greater), micro-liter volumes of chemicals for treating the specimens, low cost, disposable, fabrication process which renders sterile parts, and ease of use. The cutter is a "cheese-grater" style design comprising a block or substrate of silicon and which uses anisotropic etching of the silicon to form extremely sharp and precise cutting edges. As a specimen is cut, it passes through the silicon cutter and lies flat on a piece of glass which is bonded to the cutter. Microchannels are etched into the glass or silicon substrates for delivering small volumes of chemicals for treating the specimen. After treatment, the specimens can be examined through the glass substrate. For automation purposes, microvalves and micropumps may be incorporated. Also, specimens in parallel may be cut and treated with identical or varied chemicals. The instrument is disposable due to its low cost and thus could replace current expensive microtome and histology equipment.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.