Deep Learning for the Automation of Particle Analysis in Catalyst Layers for Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells



The rapidly growing use of imaging infrastructure in the energy materials domain drives significant data accumulation in terms of their amount and complexity. The applications of routine techniques for image processing in materials research are often \textit{ad hoc}, indiscriminate, and empirical, which renders the crucial task of obtaining reliable metrics for quantifications obscure. Moreover, these techniques are expensive, slow, and often involve several preprocessing steps. This paper presents a novel deep learning-based approach for the high-throughput analysis of the particle size distributions from transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images of carbon-supported catalysts for polymer electrolyte fuel cells. Our approach employs training an instance segmentation model, called StarDist [Schmidt et al. Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention – MICCAI 2018, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 11071. Springer, Cham], which resolves the main challenge in the pixel-wise localization of nanoparticles in TEM images: the overlapping particles. The segmentation maps outperform models reported in the literature, and the results on particle size analyses agree well with manual particle size measurements, albeit at a significantly lower cost.


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