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Scanning Microsc Suppl. 1991;5(4):S11-5; discussion S15-6.

Freezing: facts and hypothesis.

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  • 1Laboratoire d'Analyse Ultrastructurale (LAU), B√Ętiment de Biologie, Universite de Lausanne, Switzerland.


Hexagonal ice crystals formed in frozen biological specimens are large and branched. They can produce severe structural damage by solute segregation but there are also cases where they seem to cause only minor damage. When cooling is more rapid, cubic ice crystals can be formed. These are small and in general, they cause little damage. These observations can be readily explained with the hypothesis that large hexagonal ice crystals can originate from the rewarming induced transformation of a large number of cubic ice crystals. This transformation would take place without significant solute displacement.

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