Super-resolution for asymmetric resolution of FIB-SEM 3D imaging using AI with deep learning

Katsumi Hagita, Takeshi Higuchi, Hiroshi Jinnai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Scanning electron microscopy equipped with a focused ion beam (FIB-SEM) is a promising three-dimensional (3D) imaging technique for nano- and meso-scale morphologies. In FIB-SEM, the specimen surface is stripped by an ion beam and imaged by an SEM installed orthogonally to the FIB. The lateral resolution is governed by the SEM, while the depth resolution, i.e., the FIB milling direction, is determined by the thickness of the stripped thin layer. In most cases, the lateral resolution is superior to the depth resolution; hence, asymmetric resolution is generated in the 3D image. Here, we propose a new approach based on an image-processing or deep-learning-based method for super-resolution of 3D images with such asymmetric resolution, so as to restore the depth resolution to achieve symmetric resolution. The deep-learning-based method learns from high-resolution sub-images obtained via SEM and recovers low-resolution sub-images parallel to the FIB milling direction. The 3D morphologies of polymeric nano-composites are used as test images, which are subjected to the deep-learning-based method as well as conventional methods. We find that the former yields superior restoration, particularly as the asymmetric resolution is increased. Our super-resolution approach for images having asymmetric resolution enables observation time reduction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5877
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec 1


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