Realizing physical discovery in imaging with machine learning

Machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML/AI) are rapidly becoming an indispensable part of physics research, with domain applications ranging from theory and materials prediction to high-throughput data analysis. In parallel, the recent successes in applying ML/AI methods for autonomous systems from robotics through self-driving cars are generating enthusiasm for the potential of these techniques to enable automated and autonomous experiment (AE) in areas ranging from materials synthesis to imaging. The implementation of this vision requires the synergy of three intertwined components, including the engineering controls of the physical tools, the algorithmic developments that allow to define non-trivial exploratory patterns, and physics-driven interpretation.

              In this presentation, I will discuss recent progress in automated experiment in electron and scanning probe microscopy, ranging from feature finding to physics discovery via active learning. The applications of classical deep learning methods in streaming image analysis are strongly affected by the out of distribution drift effects, and the approaches to minimize though are discussed. We further present invariant variational autoencoders as a method to disentangle affine distortions and rotational degrees of freedom from other latent variables in imaging and spectral data. The analysis of the latent space of autoencoders further allows establishing physically relevant transformation mechanisms. Extension of encoder approach towards establishing structure-property relationships will be illustrated on the example of plasmonic structures. Finally, I illustrate transition from post-experiment data analysis to active learning process. Here, the strategies based on simple Gaussian Processes often tend to produce sub-optimal results due to the lack of prior knowledge and very simplified (via learned kernel function) representation of spatial complexity of the system. Comparatively, deep kernel learning (DKL) methods allow to realize both the exploration of complex systems towards the discovery of structure-property relationship, and enable automated experiment targeting physics (rather than simple spatial feature) discovery. The latter is illustrated via experimental discovery of the edge plasmons in STEM/EELS and ferroelectric domain dynamics in PFM.

This research is supported by the by the U.S. Department of Energy, Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences and Engineering Division and the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, which is sponsored at Oak Ridge National Laboratory by the Scientific User Facilities Division, BES DOE.


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