Correction of AFM data artifacts using a neural network

Correction of AFM data artifacts using a neural network

The article published by Viktor Kocur from the Brno University of Technology and his team in the Ultramicroscopy journal, Volume 246, April 2023, analyses the use of the AI in the correlation of images after the AFM-in-SEM measurements.

Correction of AFM data artifacts using a convolutional neural network trained with synthetically generated data

AFM microscopy from its nature produces outputs with certain distortions, inaccuracies and errors given by its physical principle. These distortions are more or less well studied and documented. Based on the nature of the individual distortions, different reconstruction and compensation filters have been developed to post-process the scanned images. This article presents an approach based on machine learning — the involved convolutional neural network learns from pairs of distorted images and the ground truth image and then it is able to process pairs of images of interest and produce a filtered image with the artifacts removed or at least suppressed.

What is important in our approach is that the neural network is trained purely on synthetic data generated by a simulator of the inputs, based on an analytical description of the physical phenomena causing the distortions. The generator produces training samples involving various combinations of the distortions. The resulting trained network seems to be able to autonomously recognize the distortions present in the testing image (no knowledge of the distortions or any other human knowledge is provided at the test time) and apply the appropriate corrections.

The experimental results show that not only is the new approach better or at least on par with conventional post-processing methods, but more importantly, it does not require any operator’s input and works completely autonomously. The source codes of the training set generator and of the convolutional neural net model are made public, as well as an evaluation dataset of real captured AFM images.

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