Journal cover Journal topic
Geochronology Advances in geochronological science
Journal topic
Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: short communication/technical note 23 Oct 2019

Submitted as: short communication/technical note | 23 Oct 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Geochronology (GChron).

Technical note: TRACKFlow, a new versatile microscope system for fission track analysis

Gerben Van Ranst1, Philippe Baert2, Ana Clara Fernandes2, and Johan De Grave1 Gerben Van Ranst et al.
  • 1Department of Geology, Ghent University, Ghent, 9000, Belgium
  • 2Nikon Belux, Groot-Bijgaarden, 1702, Belgium

Abstract. We here present TRACKFlow, a new system with dedicated modules for the fission track (FT) laboratory. It is based on the motorised Nikon Eclipse Ni-E upright microscope with the Nikon DS-Ri2 full frame camera and is embedded within the Nikon NIS-Elements Advanced Research software package. TRACKFlow decouples image acquisition from analysis to decrease schedule stress of the microscope. The system further has the aim of being versatile, adaptable to multiple preparation protocols and analysis approaches. It is both suited for small-scale laboratories and is also ready for upscaling to high-throughput imaging. The versatility of the system, based on the operators’ full access to the NIS-Elements package, exceeds that of other systems for FT and further expands to stepping away from the dedicated FT microscope towards a general microscope for Earth Sciences, including dedicated modules for FT research.

TRACKFlow consists of a number of user-friendly protocols which are based on the well plate design that allows sequential scanning of multiple samples without the need of replacing the slide on the stage. All protocols include a sub-protocol to scan a map of the mount for easy navigation through the samples on the stage. Two protocols are designed for the External Detector Method (EDM) and the LA–ICP–MS apatite fission track (LAFT) approach, with tools for repositioning and calibration to the external detector. Two other tools are designed for large crystals, such as the Durango age standard and U-doped glass external detectors. These protocols generate a regular grid of points and inspect if each point is suitable for analysis. Both protocols also include an option to image each withheld point. One more protocol is included for the measurement of etch pit diameters and one last protocol prepares a list of coordinates for correlative microscopy. In a following phase of development TRACKFlow can be expanded towards fully autonomous calibration, grain detection and imaging.

Gerben Van Ranst et al.
Gerben Van Ranst et al.
Gerben Van Ranst et al.
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