PNNL researchers Lisa Bramer and Sarah Reehl were on a team that received a patent for its work with electron microscopy. Electron microscopy allows scientists to make nanoscale observations of materials. Scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) produces a stream of images that relays structural, compositional, and dynamic interphase data to scientists. STEM is used in fields ranging from microbiology and neuroscience to materials science and energetics.
Algorithms in the new patent will provide tools that support electron microscopists with real-time data analysis for their experiments.
“Observations from STEM experiments come at a high cost because the instrument and instrument time are expensive,” said Bramer. “Data generated also creates challenges, as it often consists of high-volume, high-velocity data streams. The use of electrons to create a high-resolution image can cause damage to the specimen being studied creating additional challenges.”
The new tools will help microscopists direct a STEM experiment by providing live feedback about when, how, and where the specimen being imaged is changing based on viewing needing as little as 1 percent of the image to be sampled.
In addition, characteristics of interest for a specimen can be estimated and quantified based on these sparsely sampled images. Example characteristics include rate of growth and proportion of an image that consists of cells of a certain type.
Patent number US 10,541,109, “Sensing analytical instrument parameters, specimen characteristics, or both from sparse datasets,” was issued on January 21, 2020.