High-Pressure Cell System

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Overview of High-Pressure Cell System

The High-Pressure Cell (HP Cell) system includes the pressure cell, the pump, and the software for system control and data acquisition. It has been designed for absorption, fluorescence, Raman spectroscopy and polarimetry studies of solid and liquid samples. The cell, built in a stainless-steel alloy, reaches pressures up to 400 MPa (4,000 bar) using a hydrostatic pump. The HP Cell can be mounted directly into ISS spectrofluorometers and several commercial instruments; also, it can be used as a stand-alone unit.

The HP Cell comes either in a 3- or 4-windows version; the windows are located at 90 degrees from each other. Quartz and sapphire windows feature a 10 mm aperture; MgF2 windows (used for polarimetry studies) feature a 3 mm aperture.

The high aperture 10 mm-diameter windows allow for using as an excitation light source either a laser, a light emitting diode (LED) or a collimated beam from a xenon arc lamp. The unusually high numerical aperture (NA = 0.18) for a cell makes it unique for high sensitivity fluorescence studies.

Compatible with ChronosBH, ChronosDFD, and PC1.

Electrical Feedthrough

A plug is available for the HP Cell whenever a voltage needs to be applied to a sample. The plug is mounted on top of the HP Cell; the pressure is applied by connecting the flexible tubing from the pump horizontally onto the plug. Pressures up to 300 MPa can be reached with the plug.

HP Cell with Electrical Feedthrough

HP Cell with the plug for electrical feedthrough. The pressure is applied through the tubing connected horizontally to the plug. The voltage is applied on the electrodes.


Optical windows are made out of quartz (SiO2), sapphire (single-crystal aluminum oxide Al2O3) or MgF2. The windows are mounted onto polished plugs and held in place by precise mechanical holders.

Material Max pressure (MPa) Aperture (mm) Birifringence (Δn) Transmission range (nm)
Quartz [SiO2] 300 10 +0.009 180 - 2,000
Sapphire [Al2O3] 400 10 -0.008 250 - 5,000
MgF2 250 5 +0.006 150 - 6,500

The choice of the windows material is dictated by the specific application and measurement to be acquired. Quartz windows, constructed of UV grade fused silica, withstand pressures up to 300 MPa. Fused silica is a polycrystalline, isotropic material with no crystal orientation; these windows are suitable for polarization measurements. Sapphire windows withstand pressures up to 400 MPa. Yet, sapphire is a synthetic, hexagonal, single-crystal, anisotropic material, which displays substantially different optical characteristics when measured along different axes; sapphire if birefringent, that is a light beam propagating along the optical axis experiences two different values of the index of refraction. These windows are less suitable for polarization measurements. MgF2 windows feature the lowest birefringence; moreover, their transmission extends to 150 nm making them suitable for circular dichroism studies.

Plot of optical properties of differently manufactured windows

Temperature Control

The HP Cell body includes a built-in path for circulating the temperature control liquid from an external bath circulator directly attached to it. Since the cell is made of a stainless-steel alloy with excellent thermal conductivity, temperature stabilization is rapid. The HP Cell is designed for operating in the temperature range from -40 °C to 80 °C.

Product Specifications for High-Pressure Cell System


  • up to 300 MPa (3,000 bar) with quartz windows
  • up to 400 MPa (4,000 bar) with sapphire windows
  • up to 250 MPa (2,500 bar) with MgF2 windows
  • -40 °C to +80 °C
  • Controlled through built-in liquid circulation circuit
  • Thermal Conductivity
    • 2 W • cm-1 • K-1 at 20 °C
    • 16 W • cm-1 • K-1 at 200 °C
  • Quartz (19 mm diameter x 8.5 mm thick)
  • Sapphire (19 mm diameter x 6.4 mm thick)
  • MgF2 (19 mm diameter x 8.5 mm thick)
Windows Aperture
  • Quartz and Sapphire: 10 mm
  • MgF2: 3 mm
Internal Cell Chamber
  • Diameter: 22 mm
  • Height: 50.3 mm
  • 119 mm (W) x 105 mm (L) x 121.5 mm (H)
  • 39 mm from base to window centers

Pressure Generator

  • Up to 600 MPa
Reservoir Volume
  • 116 ml
Generator Volume
  • 10 ml (manual or automatic pump)
  • 1/8" diameter, flexible up to 415 MPa
  • Either Ni-Cr-Ni or Fe-Const

Sample Holder Volumes

Empty Cell, 3 Quartz Windows
  • 15.0 ml
Empty Cell, 4 Sapphire Windows
  • 24.5 ml
Holder fitted with 11 mm bottle and cap
  • 11.0 ml
  • Max allowed height of bottle with cap: 40.0 mm
Round cuvette, 11 mm outer diameter
  • 0.75 ml
Round cuvette, 9 mm outer diameter
  • 0.80 ml
Square cell, 6 x 6 mm
  • 0.30 ml

Hydrostatic Liquid

Pressure Media
  • Spectroscopic-Grade Water
  • Low Fluorescence Background Ethanol

Product Accessories for High-Pressure Cell System

Product Resources


ISS provides the suitable baseplates for mounting HP Cell into several spectrofluorometers and spectrophotometers. If the high-pressure cell cannot be mounted into an instrument, fiber-optic bundles are utilized for connection. Please contact ISS for details on the fiber optics kit.

Spectrofluorometer mounting kits are available for:

Edinburgh Instruments FS900
Hitachi F4500
Horiba Fluorolog 2, 3
Fluoromax 2, 3
Jasco FP-8300, FP-8500, FP-8600
SLM 4800, 8000, 8100, 48000
Varian Cary Eclipse

Spectrophotometer mounting kits are available for:

Jasco V-750, V-760, V-770, V-780
Shimadzu UV2501PC, UV1650PC
Varian Cary 14 UV/VIS, Cary 50, 100, 300

Spectropolarimeter mounting kits are available for:

Jasco J-710, J-715, J-810, J-815, J-1500, J-1700


High-pressure cell sample compartment in PC1 spectrofluorimeterZoom In
High-Pressure Cell in a PC1 spectrofluorometer by ISS
High-pressure cell sample compartment in ChronosDFD spectrometerZoom In
High-Pressure Cell in a ChronosDFD lifetime spectrofluorometer by ISS
High-pressure cell gauge with ChronosDFD spectrometerZoom In
Manual pump close to a ChronosDFD by ISS
The high-pressure cell connects to a pressure pump.
High-pressure cell sample compartment in an SLMZoom In
High-Pressure Cell in a Model 8100 spectrofluorometer by SLM
High-pressure cell sample compartment in a Jasco 8300Zoom In
High-Pressure Cell in a Model 8300 spectrofluorometer by Jasco
High-pressure cell sample compartment in a Cary 100Zoom In
High-Pressure Cell in a Cary100 spectrophotometer by Varian

Lifetime Measurements

Plot of lifetime measurements
Effect of pressure on fluorescence lifetimes of staphylococcal nuclease. Frequency response profiles at atmospheric and high pressure using the high-pressure cell system. Excitation wavelength was 295 nm and emission was monitored at 350 nm. Data at atmospheric pressure are represented by the green (phase) and purple (modulation) lines. Data at 2 Kbar are represented by the blue (phase) and red (modulation) lines.
(Courtesy of Prof. Catherine A. Royer, Centre de Biochimie Structurale, Université Montpellier I, Montpellier, France)

Absorption and Emission Spectra

Plot of absorption and emission spectra
The effect of pressure on the emission spectrum of prodan in Dipalmitoyl-phosphatidylcholine (DPPC) multilamellar vesicles at 20 °C in tris buffer (10 mM, pH = 8.0) containing 0.8 M ethanol. Excitation wavelength was 359 nm.
(Courtesy of Prof. Parkson L.-G. Chong, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA)