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The Ultrachron project is an NSF-sponsored, collaborative effort between Cameca, France and the University of Massachusetts. This project involves comprehensive redesign, development, and optimization of the SX electron microprobe specifically for making major improvements in EPMA geochronology and trace element micro- analysis. Specific goals involve improvements in spatial resolution and sensitivity (analytical precision), with critical attention to accuracy and a better understanding of the sources of error in trace element EPMA.

The overall goal is to test the limits of microprobe monazite geochronology and to firmly establish this compimentary technique within the spectrum of geochronologic investigation. Many of the improvements are exportable to existing microprobe laboratories or will be available on new instruments. The hardware and software will benefit all aspects of trace element analysis by electron microprobe. In addition, the optimized microprobe at UMass is available to anyone for the investigation of specialized geochronological problems or other high spatial resolution trace element applications.

The Ultrachron project involves considerable hardware redesign to optimize both electron and X-Ray optics and also involves software development specifically targeted to trace element analysis and geochronology. This project also encompasses technique refinement as well as the development and evaluation of synthetic and natural standards for the analysis of monazite and other minerals of potential geochronologic use.

ultrachron overview
pfE Probe Software, Inc. cameca