Freeze-drying (also known as "lyophilisation", "lyophilization" or "cryodesiccation") is a method of removing water by sublimation of ice crystals from frozen material. The frozen water (i.e. ice crystals) in the material sublime directly from the solid phase to the gas phase by reducing the surrounding atmospheric pressure. Lyophilization is thus a dehydration process that is typically used to preserve a perishable material or make the material more convenient for transport.
One of the best ways to store heat-sensitive materials of high value such as bacterial, fungal, yeast or other microorganism cultures for long periods of time is to use the process of freeze-drying. This process can be undertaken with a commercially available freeze-dryer that will preserve your culture collection. In general, materials that are not damaged by freezing can usually be lyophilized so that refrigerated storage is unnecessary.
Freeze-drying has many applications in pharmaceutics and biotechnology, food and agriculture-based industries, and technological industry such as chemical synthesis and nanotechnology. Pharmaceutical companies often use freeze-drying to increase the shelf life of the products, such as live virus vaccines, biologics and other injectables. In chemical synthesis, products are often freeze-dried to make them more stable or easier to dissolve in water for subsequent use. In nanotechnology, freeze-drying is used for nanotube purification to avoid aggregation due to capillary forces during regular thermal vaporization drying.
Rotalab provides laboratory and pilot scale freeze-dryers for a wide range of research and production applications.