Basile J. Luyet on the instability of solidified solutions
Basile J. Luyet (1897-1974) can be considered the father of modern cryobiology. His book “Life and Death at Low Temperatures” is a classic in the field and his journal “Biodynamica” evolved into a publication solely dedicated to the study of low temperature biology. Luyet identified the possibility of solidification without crystallization at low temperatures (vitrification) of biological materials, an approach that was later worked out as a practical method for organ preservation by the cryobiologist Greg Fahy. Vitrification solutions are also used in human cryopreservation to prevent ice formation in patients during cooldown and storage at liquid nitrogen temperature.
In the following Biodynamica study (1966) Luyet investigates the issue of structural instability and molecular mobility in solidified aqueous solutions. In these initial investigations he anticipated the phenomena of re-crystallization and de-vitrification upon rewarming, which later would present formidable challenges during the early years of applied vitrification research in large organs. Although Luyet briefly mentions the possibility of molecular mobility as such at temperatures down to absolute zero, his main focus is on ice formation that can occur during the rewarming of solutions. Cryonics Institute President Ben Best has done some theoretical explorations into the issue of molecular mobility at low temperature, a topic that raises important questions about the desirability of intermediate temperature storage (ITS) of cryonics patients.