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  • Writer's pictureSam Boone

Fission-Track Studio V4 Released!

Automatic Fission Track Imaging & Analysis System




Fission Track Studio is a flexible software suite for the collection and analysis of fission track data. The suite consists of two separate programs, TrackWorks for the control of a motorized digital microscope and the autonomous capture of high-resolution digital micrographs, and FastTracks for digital fission track analysis. Both programs contain a common set of manual measurement tools that can be used for measurement of track lengths, orientations, and other track dimensions.


Version 4 has several major upgrades that include many new features and improvements in the core software system, as well as several new advanced Extension Modules, in addition to those already available with Version 2 & 3 of the software suite. The ROI tool has been automated to a degree that requires minimal manual adjustment. Along with already automated features in FastTracks (e.g., Auto Count, Auto C-axis and Auto Dpar), the new Auto ROI function makes the automation of the full analytical routine possible. Version 4 also takes advantage of the implementation of machine learning techniques into image analysis which will enable unprecedented analytical automation and significantly aid in removing user bias.


New V4 Features!


AI-Powered FT Counting Algorithms!



FastTracks V4 has implemented HALtracks (Boone et al., in prep), a digital fission track artificial intelligence neural network capable of automatically identifying fission tracks in micas and apatites! V4 now allows users to select from a range of automated FT counting algorithms (e.g.HALtracks, Coincidence Mapping), meaning that AI-powered counting algorithms developed by the wider community can be incorporated into FastTracks, provided they are in an ONNX (Open Neural Network Exchange) format. If you would like your automatic fission-track identification algorithm implemented into FastTracks V4, contact the Melbourne Thermochronology Research Group!


Grain Morphology Tool



This new feature quantifies the geometric properties of manually outlined grains, the results of which can be exported in tables to incorporate into your next detrital geochronology/thermochronology study. Parameters calculated include:

• Nakata Roundness

• ATSM Roundness

• Perimeter Sphericity

• Convexity

• Circularity

• Aspect Ratio

• EQPC (µm)

• Feret Diameter (µm)


Batch Grain and Length Review


FastTracks V4 now allows samples' grains and lengths to be viewed simultaneously in a matrix, allowing analytical results to be rapidly reviewed and revised.


Heat Map


Track densities can now be visualised as a heat map overlay to assist in assessing track distribution homogeneity, of particular importance for LA-ICP-MS fission-track analysis.






Improved functions in V4


Improved User Interface

  • Dark Mode is available in V4 of TrackWorks and FastTracks as an option to reduce eye strain in low light conditions.

  • Essential settings, originally distributed across different windows, have now been integrated into one window in FastTracks.

  • Several useful features and filters in FastTracks are now integrated in the right-hand side panel for streamlined image analysis.




Training Mode


In training mode, fission-track analysis obtained by a ‘teacher’ can be overlayed onto those obtained by a trainee. Any discrepancies are automatically highlighted on the images for correction, comment or discussion. In FastTracks V4, direct comparison between the two results can be plotted together for grain-by-grain review.





Auto length (semi-track) measurement


Semi-track lengths are potentially useful in thermal history modelling and for detrital studies as they allow the possibility of obtaining a larger number of length measurements from individual grains, even in samples with very few confined tracks.




Mosaic Tool (auto image stitching)


The mosaic function, first released in TrackWorks Version 3, has been greatly improved in V4 with advanced controls over different light sources and improved image stitching. It offers an efficient and convenient way to create a master image covering a large user-defined area which can serve as a base map that assists with cross-platform coordination and analysis.



FastTracks Digital Fission-Track Training Module


The new and improved image-based AFT training module enables the first-ever visual diagnosis of potential individual analytical biases down to the single grain and length level. This approach provides efficiency and flexibility for intra-lab training routines, thereby offering improved analytical rigour and transparency at a community level.


Find out more here!





Additional New & Improved Features


• The main window can be magnified for closer inspection and more accurate measurement of track features.


• Fast camera integration with frame rates of 40 fps at full resolution greatly improves performance of microscope control and image capture.


• Improved/faster autofocus, automatic slide coordination, and automatic grain detection using TrackWorks.


• Software control of additional microscope functions including two-part condenser systems and motorised filter wheels.


• High dynamic range option for improved imaging in difficult grain illumination conditions.


• Greatly improved multiple slide handling capabilities, for autonomous digital imaging of 3 to 8 slides at a time. The larger 8-slide format carrier is designed for a Zeiss piezo-motor stage.


• Option to save Grey Scale and LZW-compressed TIFF images to reduce file sizes and increase performance.


• Background image subtraction for removal of persistent illumination problems at the microscope.


• Rotatable Region of Interest on the mica images when using External Detector Method (EDM) mode.



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