Image processing and image analysis are cross-disciplinary techniques that play key roles in many fields of physics, chemistry, materials science, earth sciences and life sciences. To date approximately 85 distinct disciplines have been identified in which image processing and/or image analysis play a key role and in which Image SXM, the general purpose image analysis software written by Steve Barrett, has been used (e.g., Aeronautics, Agriculture, Anaesthesia, Anatomy, Anthropology, …, Veterinary Science, Virology, Zoology).
The software was needed to process and analyse images from various scanning microscopes such as those used in Scanning Tunnelling Microscopy (STM), Scanning Force Microscopy (SFM, aka AFM), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), Scanning Auger Microscopy (SAM), Scanning Laser Microscopy (SLM), etc. The acronym adopted to describe all such scanning microscopies is SXM, where the 'X' can represent any one of dozens of modalities.
In the decades since its initial release in 1994, the number of disciplines in which scanning microscopy has played a significant role has increased dramatically. Thus the development of analysis algorithms and improvements to the software that were concomitant with the expansion of the scanning microscopy facilities of the Surface Science Research Centre throughout the late 1990s naturally found applications in disciplines more diverse than just within the physical sciences.
Image SXM is used in laboratories throughout the world. Analysis of the most recent usage statistics available (eg, web page hits, emails, ftp downloads) revealed that it was in use in 10,000 departments in 3000 institutions in 90 countries, with the majority of users in Europe (30%), USA (30%) and Japan (15%).
Quantitative analysis of the diffraction patterns produced by low-energy electron diffraction (LEED) from surface structures, including the variation of the diffraction spot intensities as a function of the beam energy, can be used in surface structure determination.
Molecular Shape Recognition
Complex molecules can adsorb onto surfaces with various orientations, depending upon the details of the interactions between one molecule and another and between the molecules and the surface atoms.
The registration of molecules on a surface with respect to the underlying crystal substrate is an important property as it determines the nature of the atomic interactions, and hence the bonding, of the molecules. Fourier techniques can be used to extract the periodicity of the crystalline substrate and identify the locations of the adsorbate molecules with respect to the resultant grid pattern.
Microscopy Image Analysis Software for Medical Applications (MIASMA) is the collective name for a number of collaborative projects with medics. Although Image SXM was written for scanning microscopy applications, it has proved to be an excellent platform on which to develop specialist image analysis solutions for the specific needs of users, including those who obtain images from light microscopes.
Principles of CIP Image Analysis (PrinCIPia) is an application that handles the calculation, display, analysis and manipulation of images representing the crystallographic orientation of grains in rock samples imaged by a polarising microscope. It is a customised version of Image SXM that was developed in collaboration with Professor Renée Heilbronner at the University of Basel.
Personnel: Dr Steve Barrett