Anti Aging Today

Vitrification: Definition

Vitrification is a process of converting a material into a glass-like amorphous solid which is free of any crystalline structure, either by the quick removal or addition of heat, or by mixing with an additive. Solidification of a vitreous solid occurs at the glass transition temperature (which is lower than melting temperature, Tm, due to supercooling).

When the starting material is solid, vitrification usually involves heating the substances to very high temperatures. Many ceramics are produced in such a manner. Vitrification may also occur naturally when lightning strikes sand, where the extreme and immediate heat can create hollow, branching rootlike structures of glass, called fulgurite.

For years, glycerol has been used in cryobiology as a cryoprotectant for blood cells and bull sperm, allowing storage at liquid nitrogen temperatures. However, glycerol cannot be used to protect whole organs from damage. Instead, many biotechnology companies are currently researching the development of other cryoprotectants more suitable for such uses. A successful discovery may eventually make possible the bulk cryogenic storage (or "banking") of transplantable human and xenobiotic organs. A substantial step in that direction has already occurred. At the July, 2005 annual conference of the Society for Cryobiology Twenty-First Century Medicine announced the vitrification of a rabbit kidney to -135ºC with their proprietary vitrification cocktail. The kidney was successfully transplantated upon rewarming to a rabbit, with complete functionality and viability.

In the context of cryonics, especially in preservation of the human brain, vitrification of tissue is thought to be necessary to prevent destruction of the tissue or information encoded in the brain. Currently, vitrification techniques have only been applied to brains (neurovitrification) by Alcor and to the upper body by the Cryonics Institute, but research is in progress by both organizations to apply vitrication to the whole body.

Related Topics:

  • Cryogenics
  • Cryobiology
  • Cryonics
  • Cryopreservation
  • Supercooling
Cryonics Resources:
 
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