Cryostats represent yet another example of the outstanding possibilities opened by the development of increasingly sophisticated cryogenic technology. 

The cryostat machine helps maintain extremely low (cryogenic) temperatures using different refrigeration methods and presents a multitude of applications in different fields, including medicine and engineering. 

Keep reading to find out more about cryostats and their current roles in various fields.

What are cryostats and what do they do?

Cryostats are technological devices able to maintain cryogenic temperatures. 

These temperature values range between -150℃ (-238℉) and absolute zero (-273℃ or -460℉), the range at which molecular motion is considered almost statical. In order to do so, cryostats use different components such as a freezing chamber and cryogenic gas. 

The cryostat machine is useful for a number of applications, including:

  • Freezing and preserving tissue samples for clinical pathology, histology, histopathology, and research labs. 
  • Segmenting tissue sections for microscopic examinations
  • Examine enzyme histochemistry
  • Facilitate quick diagnosis in a variety of fields

The Difference Between a Nitrogen and Helium Cryostat

Cryostats can use different refrigeration methods to achieve low temperatures, nitrogen and helium being two of the most common procedures (although other are possible, including argon or oxygen, among others).

The choice between helium and nitrogen implies different designs for cryostats, as both elements present different properties:

  • Nitrogen cryostats incorporate a vacuum space for insulation, in charge of minimizing the process of the nitrogen boiling away and the ensuing effects (such as the generation of icing around the vessel). This space is also in charge of isolating the outer surfaces from this liquid
  • Helium cryostats must prevent the loss of this liquid during storage. A common solution is to incorporate an external dewar for transport and storage and an adequately-insulated system to pass helium through the equipment. A radiation shield is also used to further improve insulation, in an analogous process to the use of thermal shields in cryogenic piping. 

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Types of cryostats

The different cryostat machine models match multiple needs regarding different types of frozen tissue associated, at the same time, with different frozen section temperatures. Pricing may also vary depending on the type of cryostats and their working techniques. 

The following are the different types of cryostats available: 

  • Single compressor cryostats: these devices are able to control freezing plate and cooling chamber temperatures through an evaporator system within the latter system. This means the temperature values in the freezing plate and the cooling chamber cannot be independently controlled.
  • Double compressor: this system presents two compressors, located separately at the freezing plate and the cooling chamber. This allows this type of cryostat machine to generate lower temperatures at a faster pace.
  • Rotary models: the sectioning process in this type of equipment works through the use of rotating handwheels.
  • Motorized cryostats: this type of cryostat machine uses motorized cutting drives to perform sections in samples. They allow for adjustments in cutting speeds. 

Industrial uses of cryostats

Cryostats have been used to cool certain infrared sensors employed in space and satellite equipment. However, their current most significant application is their use in the medical field, where they’re employed in a variety of fields:

  • They facilitate rapid diagnosis through the section of frozen tissue samples. For instance, they play a key role in determining the extent of needed removals to eliminate disease
  • Cryostats are also instrumental in settling whether microscopic structures present cancerous features through the observation of frozen sections. This is also applicable in chemosurgery processes. 
  • They help pathologists and neurologists in performing enzyme histochemistry with the aim of diagnosing and treating diseases
  • A cryostat machine is also used to inspect cell anatomy in histology processes

Keep reading: The most common gasses that a professional medical gas supplier must know

How to choose the right cryostat machine

As cryostats present different sizes, features and capacities, it’s important for companies to consider a series of factors before deciding which equipment to get.

The following include some of the options to be considered:

  • Companies should contemplate which materials they’ll need to cut to ensure the equipment’s technical specifications match the thickness and specimen size they’ll be working with. 
  • Factors such as ergonomic design and automations may facilitate workflows and speed-up results, and should therefore be considered before making the choice
  • It’s necessary to confirm the equipment size matches the companies’ premises
  • Other convenient add-ons include the possibility to use devices with suitable temperature controls and high-quality sectioning possibilities
  • Equipment safety and easy operation must be guaranteed
  • It’s important to pick reliable companies with experience in the field of providing companies with cryostats. It’s advisable to compare several options
  • Companies should also have a look at their potential budgets to spend on their cryostat equipment, and consider issues such as ROI when it comes to deciding whether to buy or rent the equipment
  • The cryogenic performance of the device must also be ensured, adjusting to the temperature ranges that companies will need to access when manipulating the equipment. This must also be complemented with quality cryogenic temperature controllers

All in all, the right choice of cryostats must incorporate state-of-the-art technology with intuitive use and minimized maintenance needs. 

As applied cryogenic technologies evolve, companies are in need of finding reliable partners to provide them with efficient and safe cryogenic equipment. At Cryospain, we work to be exactly that for companies. 

As part of our cryogenic engineering services, we offer cryogenic piping technologies, low-pressure storage, pressurized storage, cryogenic plants and stations and tailor-made cryogenic equipment, including the needed components for cryostats. 

This way, and through our cryogenic engineering consulting services, we facilitate the process of accessing reliable cryogenic equipment that fits exactly the needs of each project. 

Want to learn more about cryostats, their expanding role in different industries and how to make sure to pick the right system? Get in touch with us and speak to our team to get personalized advice.

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