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Data acquisition and processing framework for Ar-Ar geochronology and noble gas mass spectrometry
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What is Pychron

Pychron is a set of applications for the collection and processing of noble gas mass spectrometry data. Pychron is developed at the New Mexico Geochronology Research Laboratory at New Mexico Tech. Components of pychron are used within multiple research domains, but mainly for Ar-Ar geochronology and thermochronology. Pychron's main applications are pyValve, pyLaser, pyExperiment and pyView. Additional components include RemoteControlServer.cs and Bakedpy.

Pychron aims to augment and replace the current widely used program Mass Spec by Alan Deino of Berkeley Geochronology Center

Who's Using Pychron

A number of Ar/Ar Geochronology laboratories are using Pychron to various degrees. These include

  • New Mexico Geochronology Research Laboratory
  • University of Manitoba
  • University of Wisconsin
  • US Geological Survey - Denver, South West Isotope Research Laboratory
  • Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, AGES
  • US Geological Survey - Menlo Park
  • NASA - MNGRL, Goddard Space Flight Center
  • AEL-AMS, Ottawa
  • University of Arizona

Installation of Pychron at other laboratories is ongoing. Current interested labs are

  • University of Florida
  • Purdue University
  • CAMS, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Additionally, Remote Control Server, a script made by the pychron developers, is used extensively by the international community to interface third-party software with Thermo Scientific's Mass Spectrometer control software.


Used to control and monitor a noble gas extraction line a.k.a prep system. Displays a graphical interface for user to interact with. A RPC interface is also provided enabling control of the prep system by other applications.


Configure for multiple types of lasers. Currently compatible with Photon machines Fusions CO2, 810 diode and ATLEX UV lasers. Watlow or Eurotherm interface for PID control. Machine vision for laser auto targeting and modulated degassing.


Write and run a set of automated analyses. Allows NMGRL to operate continuously. only limited by size of analysis chamber.


Display, process and publish Ar-Ar geochronology and thermochonology data. Export publication ready PDF tables and figures. Export Excel, CSV, and XML data tables. Store and search for figures in database.


Furnace firmware running on a networked RaspberryPi. RPC interface via Twisted for remote control

Mac OSX 10.9 and Later

Mac OSX and macOS operating systems later than 10.9 (Mavericks) include a memory management tool called App Nap. It is necessary to turn off App Nap for pychron. To turn off App Nap system wide use

defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSAppSleepDisabled -bool YES
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