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Freeze fracture describes the technique of breaking a frozen specimento reveal internal structures. Freeze etching is the sublimation of surface ice under vacuum to reveal details of the fractured face that were originally hidden.
A metal / carbon mix enables the sample to be imaged in an SEM (block-face) or TEM (replica). It is used to investigate for instance cell organelles, membranes, layers and emulsions. The technique is traditionally used for biological applications, but started to develop significantly in physics and material science. Freeze fracture electron microscopy, particularly freeze replica immunolabeling (FRIL), has provided new insights into the roles of membrane proteins in dynamic cellular processes.
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