KEYWORDS: Signal to noise ratio, Image compression, Sensors, Image restoration, Electron microscopes, Atomic force microscopy, Scanning electron microscopy, Electron microscopy, Raster graphics, Compressed sensing
Scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) are used in neuroscience and materials science to image centimeters of sample area at nanometer scales. Since imaging rates are in large part SNR-limited, large collections can lead to weeks of around-the-clock imaging time. To increase data collection speed, we propose and demonstrate on an operational SEM a fast method to sparsely sample and reconstruct smooth images. To accurately localize the electron probe
position at fast scan rates, we model the dynamics of the scan coils, and use the model to rapidly and accurately visit a randomly selected subset of pixel locations. Images are reconstructed from the undersampled data by compressed sensing inversion using image smoothness as a prior. We report image fidelity as a function of acquisition speed by comparing traditional raster to sparse imaging modes. Our approach is equally applicable to other domains of
nanometer microscopy in which the time to position a probe is a limiting factor (e.g., atomic force microscopy), or in which excessive electron doses might otherwise alter the sample being observed (e.g., scanning transmission electron microscopy).