Cryopreservation, the process of freezing living isms temporarily, is an increasingly important part of medicine; this is true in both research and, to a somewhat lesser extent, applied medicine. Research in cryopreservation continues to demonstrate the capacity of living cells, groups of cells and even tissue to be frozen and then unfrozen later without serious detrimental effects. The implications of this are sweeping throughout all of medicine. Among the most important of these implications is the possible improvement in the process of organ preservation before donation.
Cryopreservation is made possible by cryogenic chambers and other equipment that is capable of reducing the temperature in an enclosure at a speed and in a way that does not cause harm to the chamber’s contents. It has been demonstrated that freezing living cells too quickly can cause damage to cells, so cryogenic chambers are usually equipped with mechanisms that allow for the controlled reduction of temperature at an appropriate speed. Because of the level of control they offer, and because they are capable of achieving much lower sustained temperatures than simple freezers or refrigerators, cryogenic chambers are highly favored for a wide variety of low-temperature applied and experimental medical processes. Fertility clinics, organ donation facilities and all manner of medical research facilities all make wide use of cryogenic chambers for experiments in cryonics, cryopreservation and a variety of other purposes.
Outside of the context of medicine, cryogenic chambers are used for many other purposes. Food preservation research efforts often make use of cryogenic chambers to determine the viability of low-temperature food preservation methods. Cryogenic chambers can also be used for freeze-drying processes, though machines used for this purpose are more commonly referred to as “freeze-dryers.” As research in cryogenics continues, and as the practicality of cryobiological processes continues to reveal itself, the need for cryogenic chambers is likely to proliferate.