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Automated collection of single species of microfossils using a deep learning–micromanipulator system

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For geochemical analysis such as stable isotope ratio, radiocarbon dating and minor element analysis for a single species of microfossils, a large number of specimens, is required. Collecting specimens one by one under a microscope requires enormous time and effort. In this study, we developed a device that automates these efforts and can be used without expert knowledge. Microfossils can be accurately classified and identified to taxonomic species level using deep learning, which is one of the learning methods of artificial intelligence (AI), and picked up using a micromanipulator installed in the microscope with an automated motorized X-Y stage. A prototype of the classification model AI-PIC_20181024 showed the ability to classify microfossil species Cycladophora davisiana and Actinomma boreale (radiolarians) with accuracy exceeding 90% at a confidence level > 0.90. Using this method, it is possible to collect a large number of particles with speed and accuracy that cannot be achieved by a human technician. Although this technology can only be used for specific species of microfossils, it greatly reduces the hand work of picking and also enables chemical analysis, such as isotope ratio and minor element analysis, for small microfossil species for which it had been difficult to collect enough specimens. In addition to microfossils, this technology can be applied to other particles, with applications expected in various fields, such as medical, food, horticulture, and materials. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].




Itaki, T., Taira, Y., Kuwamori, N., Maebayashi, T., Takeshima, S., & Toya, K. (2020). Automated collection of single species of microfossils using a deep learning–micromanipulator system. Progress in Earth and Planetary Science, 7(1).

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