High-performance Rigid & Non-rigid Registration

Automated image alignment / stitching for ADF STEM time, focal and camera-length series.


HAADF STEM image of SrTiO3 low-angle grain boundary obtained by smart image-realignment and averaging, data credit: Hao Yang (click to enlarge)

Several types of quantitative ADF experiments start with image-series of some type. This can include time-series, to improve image quality through frame-averaging or to study damage processes, or focal-series to study the optical properties of the microscope of for optical-sectioning experiments.

The first stage in analysing frame-series data is usually to register the set using rigid-registration, this counters translational movement caused by stage or sample drift. After this any scanning distortions caused in the STEM can be corrected using non-rigid registration.

To automatically perform this rigid and non-rigid registration a new software called Smart Align was written. This is compatible with both dark-field and bright-field STEM data, as well as time-series, focal-series or camera-length series.

Uses of the Smart Align rigid / non-rigid registration software include:

  • Improving image SNR through frame-averaging without the usual resolution loss from image-blurring,
  • Improving image resolution and peak-position accuracy for structural measurements and strain mapping,
  • Removing STEM scanning distortions to improve onward analysis such as principle component analysis (PCA).

Smart Align is available to download free of charge for academic / non-commercial use.

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