Leica ACE900 Freeze Fracture System

The Leica ACE900 Freeze Fracture System is used for sample preparation of biological and non-biological materials. Freeze fracturing is particularly useful for observing internal cell structures, particularly membrane proteins since fracturing of the sample frequently occurs between the lipid bilayers of the cell membrane. Details of water-covered structures may be further revealed by the process of freeze etching, which is used to sublimate ice off of the cleaved surface. The sample is then coated with platinum and carbon to create a replica, which is transferred to either a TEM or SEM for analysis.

The Leica ACE900 Freeze Fracture combines all of these functions in a single semi-automated instrument. The delivery of carbon/metal mix coatings by e-beam combined with a rotating cryo stage and flexible shadowing options provides about 1.5 nm resolution imaging capability for any TEM and SEM analysis. Freeze fracture can also be used on small samples of various soft materials such as polymer solutions and gels, wood pulp, oil-water-surfactant emulsions, lyotropic and thermotropic liquid crystals, colloidal dispersions, detergents, and even ice cream!

This instrument was purchased with an Energy Frontier Research Center grant funded by the U.S Department of Energy Office of Science (Center for Lignocellulose Structure and Formation, Dr. Candace Haigler and Dr. Yaroslava Yingling, NC State co-PIs) and NC State matching funds from the Office of Research, Innovation, and Economic Development, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Engineering, and the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences.

Questions? Contact Aaron Bell at ajbell6@ncsu.edu
Location: MRC room 303D


Equipment Specifications

  • E-Beam coatings – Carbon & Platinum
  • Accurate coating thickness measurement
  • Precision temperature control
  • Automation with touch screen interface
  • Load locks to maintain continuous vacuum
  • Programmable operation

*Cold shield around the sample avoids water molecules freezing onto your sample

  • Accurate temperature control during the complete process
  • Clean Knife – fresh blade for each cut avoids contamination
  • Instant, fast e-beam coating, which captures detailed surface information