A cell culture incubator is designed to maintain a constant temperature and high humidity for the growth of tissue culture cells under a CO2 atmosphere. Typical temperature settings range from 4C to 50C, and CO2 concentrations run from 0.3 to 19.9%. Non-corrosive stainless steel interiors are standard, but some newer models feature antimicrobial copper surfaces to prevent contamination. Auto decontamination using heat or UV light is another new and attractive feature available in CO2 incubators.
Temperature in a CO2 incubator is typically controlled either by a water bath that circulates through the walls of the cabinet (water jacketed CO2 incubator), or by electric coils that give off radiant heat. Some units also include refrigeration for cooling. Relative humidity is maintained between 95% and 98% by an atomizer system or water reservoir. Features of cell culture incubators such as programmable controls with password protection, temperature alarms, CO2 alarms, and door opening alarms enhance convenience and security for the user.
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