Scanning Microscopy


A universal system for freeze-substitution (FS), freeze-drying (FD) and low temperature embedding (LTE) has been developed, suited to perform standardized procedures of cryoprocessing biological and medical specimens as well as systematic studies of dehydration and embedding at various low and high temperatures. In a 35 I Dewar vessel with 110 mm neck diameter an aluminum tube is mounted to the bottom of the liquid nitrogen (LN2x) reservoir and extends to the lower part of the cylindrical neck. At its top an aluminum plate serves as a contact surface for either the FS chamber or the FD chamber. FS and subsequent LTE are carried out in an environment of dry cold nitrogen gas provided by evaporating nitrogen from the dewar. Different capsules and moulds may be used for cryodehydration and LTE. FD of bulk specimens or cryosections takes place in an absolutely clean vacuum provided by a cryosorption pump integrated in the FD apparatus. Most of the Hp molecules from the frozen specimen are trapped by large cold surfaces inside the drying chamber. Due to the low LN2 consumption during FS or FD (3-4 l LN2/day) both procedures may be carried out for 8-10 days without refilling the dewar. A few representative results show that well frozen biological material is stabilized by prolonged FS or FD at temperatures of about -80°C without use of chemical fixatives like OsO4 in the substitution medium during FS or by OsO4 vapor fixation after FD.

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