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Sectioning encompasses all techniques which harden and/or embed a specimen of interest that is then sliced into sections (using a microtome, cryostat, or vibratome) nanometers or micrometers thick. These sections are then typically mounted to slides, stained, and analyzed via electron, light, or confocal microscopy. Specimens may be flash frozen prior to sectioning, which is done via cryosection. Alternatively, paraffin, plastic methyl methacrylate (MMA), or resins are commonly used materials in which to embed specimens. Sectioning is most commonly used in histology, pathology, and immunochemistry and may also be used to study the microscopic structures of metals, plastics, rocks, or other inorganic matter. (Credit: Stephani Shusta)
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