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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Understanding the Influence of Receptive Field and Network Complexity in Neural Network-Guided TEM Image Analysis


Trained neural networks are promising tools to analyze the ever-increasing amount of scientific image data, but it is unclear how to best customize these networks for the unique features in transmission electron micrographs. Here, we systematically examine how neural network architecture choices affect how neural networks segment, or pixel-wise separate, crystalline nanoparticles from amorphous background in transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images. We focus on decoupling the influence of receptive field, or the area of the input image that contributes to the output decision, from network complexity, which dictates the number of trainable parameters. For low-resolution TEM images which rely on amplitude contrast to distinguish nanoparticles from background, we find that the receptive field does not significantly influence segmentation performance. On the other hand, for high-resolution TEM images which rely on both amplitude and phase-contrast changes to identify nanoparticles, receptive field is an important parameter for increased performance, especially in images with minimal amplitude contrast. Rather than depending on atom or nanoparticle size, the ideal receptive field seems to be inversely correlated to the degree of nanoparticle contrast in the image. Our results provide insight and guidance as to how to adapt neural networks for applications with TEM datasets.

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