Process of Vitrification

1) Living tissue is mostly made of water:

2) Water is part of a solution with other molecules in living things:

 3) When tissue is cooled below freezing, water molecules gather together and form growing ice crystals:

4) Ice squeezes other molecules into a harmful concentrated solution:

 5) On a cellular scale, ice forms first outside cells:

6) Growing ice causes cells to dehydrate and shrink:

 7) Finally cells are left damaged and squashed between ice crystals:

 8) Adding chemicals called cryoprotectants to water can prevent water molecules from gathering together to form ice:

 9) Instead of freezing, molecules just move slower and slower as they are cooled:

 10) Finally, at temperatures below -100° C, molecules become locked in place and a solid is formed. Water that becomes solid without freezing is said to be “vitrified”:

 11) Cryoprotectants are added to cells before deep cooling:

12) There is no damage to cells during cooling because no ice is formed:

 13) Finally cells are vitrified and biological time is stopped:


14) Because no ice is formed, vitrification can solidify tissue without structural damage:


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