Cryotechniques in Biological Electron Microscopy

ISBN: 9783642728174
Publisher: Springer
Edition: Softcover reprint of the original 1st ed. 1987
Publication Date: 2011-12-06
Number of pages: 297
  • $185.06

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To preserve tissue by freezing is an ancient concept going back pre­ sumably to the practice of ice-age hunters. At first glance, it seems as simple as it is attractive: the dynamics of life are frozen in, nothing is added and nothing withdrawn except thermal energy. Thus, the result should be more life-like than after poisoning, tan­ ning and drying a living cell as we may rudely call the conventional preparation of specimens for electron microscopy. Countless mishaps, however, have taught electron microscopists that cryotechniques too are neither simple nor necessarily more life-like in their outcome. Not too long ago, experts in cryotechniques strictly denied that a cell could truly be vitrified, i.e. that all the solutes and macro­ molecules could be fixed within non-crystalline, glass-like solid water without the dramatic shifts and segregation effects caused by crystallization. We now know that vitrification is indeed pos­ sible. Growing insight into the fundamentals of the physics of water and ice, as well as increasing experience of how to cool cells rapidly enough have enlivened the interest in cryofixation and pro­ duced a wealth of successful applications.

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