What special items of laboratory equipment are needed if I want to use the automatic counting module in the new Trakscan ?
For our latest software product (the automatic track counting module in Trakscan) to function properly, the following items are essential :
1. a high-quality motorised microscope
2. a high-quality digital camera
3. a very high performance PC
4. An anti-vibration table
5. A high-quality grinding and polishing setup
6. A facility for vacuum deposition of a reflective surface
The motorised microscope is required to ensure that the multitude of detailed images can be captured properly. These are necessary to ensure that the counting is accurate. The need for the high-quality digital camera is for the same reason, as is the requirement for a high-performance PC.
The anti-vibration table is an important piece of equipment. Its purpose is to isolate the microscope system from vibrations transmitted through the laboratory floor. It has been our experience that most laboratories have floors which move a surprising amount. Because of the high magnifications used in this procedure, such vibrations are very evident, and result in shaking of the image. This destroys the information required for accurate track counting.
An effective anti-vibration table need only consist of a suitably large slab of granite, mounted on a resilient base, such as (say) four wheelbarrow inner tubes. This is a much less expensive arrangement than the commercially available tables, but is very effective. Dr. Glasmacher of Heidelberg University has kindly supplied us with details of his very good but simple setup, and we would be pleased to either provide this information to anyone interested, or put them in touch with Dr. Glasmacher. Please email us !
In order for the automatic counting software to function properly, it is further necessary to ensure that the top and bottom surfaces of the grain mount are absolutely parallel and smooth. This entails the use of high-quality grinding and polishing equipment. Prof. Gleadow at the University of Melbourne has the necessary equipment and has carried out such operations. Please contact us for further details.
It is also necessary to deposit a thin coat of metallic material on the surface of the grain mount. This eliminates spurious reflections caused by almost horizontal tracks just beneath the grain surface, which could falsify the track count. Again, please contact us for more details.