TESCAN - Image Processing Software
TESCAN produces a number of software solutions. The sophisticated control software is a standard part of every scanning electron microscope produced by TESCAN. There is also a standalone image processing software ATLAS. The software is modular with software extensions for various purposes.
Our aim from the beginning is to provide a customer software which will be intuitive and user-friendly for both professional or inexperienced microscopist. The current third generation of SEM microscopes is equipped with new software which is simple, transparent and even more intuitive.
- Multi-user environment
- Multi-language support
- Image manager with search over imaging conditions
- Standard format of images like TIFF, BMP, JPEG, JPEG2000, PNG, GIF, PGM, PPM
- Fast Report Generator with export to multiple formats, including MS Word, Open Office, PDF etc.
- Detailed on-line help
- High quality 16-bit image processing
- Sophisticated calibration and measurement tools
- Extension modules optimized for particular purposes
The Atlas software is a standalone application for offline image processing of SEM images as well as powerfull image grabber.
Calibrated input from various devices like video microscopes, light microscopes with digital camera, endoscopes, scanners etc. enables basic metrology applications.
Atlas Software Features
- User friendly interface
- Built-in multi language and multi user support
- Image manager for conversion and searching
- Template-based Report generator with export to PDF, RTF, and Open Document Format
- Input device calibration and/or multi image recalibration
- Header files compatible between all TESCAN devices
- Measurement toolbox for all basic shapes, profiles and marks
Image Processing and Analysis
- Range of image filters and processing algorithms
- Basic aritmetic and binary image operations
There is a wide range of extension modules for the TESCAN SEM control software and for the ATLAS image processing software.
Standard Software Extensions
- Image Processing
- Object Area
- Multi Image Calibrator
- 3D Scanning
- Print Magnification
- Switch-Off Timer
- Live Video
- Remote Client (standalone application)
Optional Software Modules
- Particle Analysis
- Image Snapper
- Sample Observer
- 3D Metrology (standalone application)
- MouseLink (standalone application)
Particle Analysis has two versions:
- The Particles Basic module is intended for single image morphological analysis e.g. analysis of size and shape of individual grains in the metallographic image. Module can distinguish grains (image objects) defined by boundaries and generate a database of selected size and shape parameters do the classification and export statistical data.
The procedure runs in following steps:
- Selection of the working mode - manual (tutorial) with manual set up of the parameters in separate steps of the procedure (the offered parameters are consequently displayed and leads the operator to the results) and automatic which runs the analysis according to pre-set parameters (suitable for processing/evaluating of similar images)
- Pre-processing for a purpose of the noise reduction
- Thresholding - colouring of the objects and their separation from background based on grey level
- Segmentation - determination of the objects border and objects separation (choice of three methods: basic, conditioned erosion and dilatation, watershed), calculation of objects parameters. (37 parameter for each object). The parameter are divided into five groups: geometric parameters (Area, Perimeter, G. Center X, G. Center Y, Length, Width, Roundness, Aspect Ratio, Angle, Holes Count, Holes Area, Holes Ratio), photometric parameters, physical parameters (combining information about shape and grey level of pixels inside the object, Legendre’s ellipse, and special parameters.
- Editing – editing results of the segmentation for the purpose of correcting imperfections occurred during the segmentation.
- Classification of objects according to selected criteria, presentation of results, saving results into files
Many options can be chosen during the processing and evaluation of images.
Software module Particles Advances the serves for automatic detection and morphological analysis of objects (particles, grains) on the area which is larger than one field of view (up to the size of the X and Y movements range).
- The analyzed Specimen Surfaces can be defined as rectangular or circlular area.
- More Areas of Interest (AOI) can be defined and analyzed together in each Specimen Surface.
- The areas are automatically analyzed field-by-field using the XY motorized stage.
- Objects lying on the border of two fields are connected and counted only once.
- Results of the whole process are lists of objects and their characters. Each list belongs to one Specimen Surface.
- The user can select the Specimen Surface and review its objects. By clicking on the particular object in the list the selected object will be moved into the centre of the field of view for the purpose of detailed investigation or revision.
- All measured data and images can be stored into a database and reloaded again for further classification.
The EasyEDX software modules provide an integration module for the OEM EasyEDX detector (it is included in the EasyEDX package as standard). However, the integration works with any Quantax EDX detector.
The software extension for integrating the EasyEDX microanalysis into the SEM control software runs as a client for the Quantax EDX server. The server provides all of the spectrum operations and could run on the same computer (as a SEM control software) as well as on remote computer for a standalone Quantax EDX installation (Esprit LAN License needed).
The EasyEDX software extension supports point and area quantitative elemental analysis and basic line scan and mapping directly in the live SEM image. The extension is also integrated in the EasySEM control interface for the One-Touch EDX analysis.
The Report generator is a standard feature contained in all TESCAN, a.s. Scanning Electron Microscopes controlling software. This software tool allows a user to generate printable documents (reports). Stored images from SEM can be digestedly placed in document with all information in description. Making basic reports for presenting results of your observation quickly and clearly, this is Report generator tool.
If you open File - Print in main menu, the dialog for the selection of report templates appears. Report generator can be started also form Image manager tool by clicking on the printer icon. The amount of editable objects and type of dialog layout on one page depends on the selected predefined template. There are presets for single, two, four or six objects on one page with or without detailed labels. Templates can be modified by individual needs.
There is toolbar with icons in the upper part. Through these icons operations like printing, exporting, zooming, fitting the page into the window and moving between pages are available. You can preview each page or edit creation of the report. The panel with the tabs Document, Page and Images located on the left of the Report Generator main window allows choosing desired parameters and sequence of images.
Open desired image(s) from main menu File - Open Image, start with selection of appropriate template and run Report generator. There are possibilities to zoom or fit the page to the window. You can preview your report in Preview mode, where the documents are displayed exactly as they will be printed or edited. In Edit mode the panel with the tabs Document, Page, Images on the left appears. If you click on the image, the dialog for the selection of labels will be displayed. Choice of labels you want to display in your report is possible from check box menu directly or by clicking on the editable fields separately. All blue dashed objects are editable including title name. The items on the tab Document are valid for the whole document while the items on the tab Page are valid only for the current page. In the tab Images you can sort or remove images according to print sequence for the whole document. Prepared report can be exported to the text, graphical or presentation document files.
- No additional software needed
- Possibility to create own reports
- Displaying only labels that user wants
- Easy export to RTF or Open Office document format
The Image Manager is a standard feature included in all TESCAN, a.s. Scanning Electron Microscopes controlling software. This software tool allows a user to browse, view or edit various images. You can view acquired images very simply without installing another image editor or browser. Images are processed with all information and parameters containing the header.Users can browse images in defined folders like user´s specific folder or favorite folder and also search by specific criteria. There is lot of parameters to set for matching desired image.
The Image Manager dialog can be opened from the menu: File - Image Manager. There is well-arranged and user-friendly interface. The upper part of the Image Manager window contains the toolbar, in the bottom part there is the status bar. The first set of the buttons on the toolbar serves for opening folders where images are saved.Users with account at expert level can browse images in folders throughout the computer as well as in defined specific or favorite folders.There is also possibility to search for images in accordance with many parameters. Images that fulfill the specified searching criteria are immediately shown in main window.Users with account at basic level, including quest, have access to their specific folders only.
The image view mode can be chosen by means of the second set of the buttons on the toolbar. There are different imaging modes such a Report mode, Icons mode, Tiles mode and Slide Show mode. The last set of buttons on the toolbar allows renaming, deleting, exporting and also showing all important information about the selected image.
As mentioned above, the Image Manager is designed for easy browsing of all supported image formats and also for basic editing and printing selected images. If you open desired folder, list of images appears in the middle of the Image Manager window. There is a possibility to order images according to parameters such as name, type, resolution, magnification, author, project, device, etc. in Report mode. Icons mode displays only big previews without caption while Title mode displays caption and small previews. In Slideshow mode there is displayed only one big image chosen from bar on the right.
Searching for images pursuant to various parameters such a date, beam energy, magnification, detector and many more is a great advantage. This allows filtering only the images that we want to find out. There is variety of criteria for searching images: date of origin, magnification, detector, beam energy, vacuum mode, scan mode, resolution. Moreover, it is also possible to search according to header information containing note, sign, description, author, project´s and device name. We can choose one or all of these criteria.
Selected image(s) is possible to rename, delete or export to various image formats and two bit depths (8 bit or 16 bit), all with no loss of image header information.
Left click on the printer button starts Report generator tool designed for creating basic printable documents (reports). After arranging images with information into a document, there is a possibility to print these reports or export them to the file.
The Detectors & Mixer is a standard feature included in all TESCAN, a.s. Scanning Electron Microscopes controlling software. The Detectors & Mixer panel serves for selection of appropriate detector installed and connected to SEM and for control of contrast/brightness levels. Access to desired detector suitable for concrete application is allowed from this panel. Besides, mixing of two signals from various detectors provides many possibilities of imaging for different applications. This is convenient for samples observation where two signals together give better visual result. Hence, there is a possibility to continuously sum up or subtract signals from two detectors. The Detectors & Mixer allows to connect up to 4 detectors together and display their signals in four frames side by side. It is possible to control SE, BSE, CL, LVSTD, In-beam and TE detectors.
The utilization of the panel depends on the number of detectors installed on the SEM. In each of four channel fields there is a combo box, where the choice of all available detectors is possible.
There are five option buttons: for selection of current detector (Channel A), for summation and subtraction of mixed signals from two detectors (Channel A+B, Channel A-B), for comparison of two signals in separated frames (A I B) and for displaying four signals abreast (A I B I C I D). The buttons under the channels selectors shows the actual parameters of the contrast and brightness level in percentage. Clicking on this button enables to set up desired values of contrast and brightness in Pad menu. In bottom part there is a slider for smooth changing ratio of two different signals.
The Detectors & Mixer panel enables selection of appropriate detector from combo box. Number of items in this menu depends on number of installed detectors on SEM. In case we use only one detector, selection of active detector is allowed only in channel A.
In case we choose two different detectors together, we can mix their signals from 0 to 100% either by summation or by subtraction. If we choose for example SE (channel A) and BSE (channel B) detectors together, value 0% will display only SE image and vice versa value 100% only BSE image. Range between are ratios of SE and BSE signals.
Very useful tool is imaging of two same regions on the sample by two different detectors in Splitscreen mode (two separated frames in one window). Moreover, autosignal function is available in each frame separately. For example, we can view significant differences between topographical (SE) and material (BSE) contrast clearly in one window. Up to 4 detectors can be turned on at once and their different signals can be displayed in one window. Potential of detectors connected to SEM can be maximally utilized.
An anaglyph (stereoscopic image) is an image in which the illusion of depth is produced by offsetting two copies of the same image in two different colors. Viewing anaglyphs through appropriately two-coloured glasses results in each eye seeing a slightly different picture. The visual cortex of the brain interprets the result in three dimensional scene.
This module allows acquire stereoscopic anaglyph images or 3D live scanning. There are several parameters like the angle of the acquisition (Beam tilt) as well as shift of the superimposed images to get the best 3D perception. You can choose from two imaging modes depending on your anaglyph glasses lens color.
- Mixing of two different signals together
- Displaying up to 4 signals in one window
- Easy selection of active detector
TESCAN SEMs are equipped with a powerful internal digital pattern generator with 16-bit scanning ramp DACs (65,536 x 65,536 virtual write field).
The field emission electron column is also equipped with a powerful In-Flight Beam Tracing with a possibility to directly control the spot size and probe current.Available processing modes:
- Electron exposition (EBL)
- Electron etching (EBE)
- Electron Deposition (EBD)
- Ion etching (IBE)
- Ion deposition (IBD)
The optional DrawBeam Basic extension module is intended for standard lithographic processes one field ion or electron beam lithographic applications. Minimum pixel dwell time for all shapes is 80 ns/pixel.The following scanning shapes and objects are available:
- Rectangle (outline, filled, stairs, polishing)
- Circle (outline, filled)
- Annulus (filled, stairs, polishing)
- Polygon (outline, filled)
- Void objects (rectangle, circle, polygon)
- Alignment marks
Objects are organized into layers. Each layer can have a separate setting of a processing mode with adequate set of parameters (e.g. exposition setup, material of the sample/resist, serial/parallel processing etc.) Exposure conditions can be set from the actual beam parameters and according to the material of the sample from a user defined database.Editing functions are:
- Clone/ Mesh object
- Group of the objects/Explode groups and mesh objects
- Rotate and Align objects
- Layers/Objects management
The following features and parameters of the lithographic process are available (It is also possible to change some parameters during the exposure):
- UV coordinate system
- Z – leveling (only for EBL, EBE, EBD)
- Drift correction (only for EBL, IBE, IBD)
- Object overlap resolver (single or multiple exposure)
- Change depth of objects (only for EBE, EBD, IBE, IBD)
- Shift exposure in the time (only for EBE, EBD, IBE, IBD)
Real–time pattern visualization during the lithographic process is available. The project file with programmable exposure conditions is automatically generated from the graphical user interface. The project can be saved, loaded, imported or exported to a bitmap.DrawBeam Advanced
DrawBeam Advanced is designed for users who need to create more complex structures with more speed and accuracy.The optional extension 'DrawBeam' extends the DrawBeam Basic version with the following features:
- Minimum dwell time 20 ns/pixel for all shapes
- Multiple write fields (stitching)
- Stage navigation
- Proximity effect correction
- GDSII and DXF import
FIB tomography has become an important tool for studying materials at the micro and nano scale. Unlike a single cross-section, this technique gives better understanding of the volume distribution, 3D structure and relationship between three dimensional objects. TESCAN FIB-SEMs can be equipped with an optional software module 3D Tomography for automated data acquisition and reconstruction.
FIB tomography is a method specific to FIB-SEM systems such as LYRA or VELA. It is based on serial SEM imaging of FIB-prepared cross-sections and subsequent 3D reconstruction and visualization All the necessary steps are fully automated in the new 3D Tomography software module.
For this example, a piece of an old broken CPU (180 nm technology) was used. Acquisition was done with a LYRA 3 XM – the high resolution SEM-FIB system. The TESCAN backscattered electron detector was selected for imaging of slices because of the material contrast. For acquisition, the voxel size was set to 55 nm for all Cartesian axes (z size = slice thickness).
3D Tomography Software Module
The 3D Tomography software module is a fully integrated part of TESCAN control software. The module consists of following parts: - Milling and image acquisition wizard - Data post-processing - 3D reconstruction and visualization
The Acquisition Wizard guides the operator to set optimal milling and imaging parameters. The region of interest is selected in the FIB window and some parameters related to milling conditions, number of slices and resolution have to be set
Automated Ion Milling & Image Acquisition
The first „preparation“ step creates an optional protective layer, mills a ditch of the given depth and prepares a polished initial cross-section. The ditch size is set automatically to prevent estimated redeposition effects and geometrical shadowing of the cross-section. The deposition of a protective Pt layer is done in some cases, e.g. when a precise surface profile reconstruction is required, and in other cases can be switched off. The second step starts from the initial cross-section. A repetitive process of cutting off thin slices of material and image acquisition follows. The tilt correction, image shift and focus are re-adjusted automatically to keep the image of the polished surface in the center of the view field. The whole process of data acquisition for volume approx. 10×10×10 μm can take about 2-3 hours (depending on the selected milling conditions).
The acquired image series are not always perfect for direct visualization without post-processing. This is why the images can be cropped, realigned and some additional filters can be applied (shading correction, median, etc). 3D Visualization Various visualization methods are available. The module can load a series of grayscale images or import raw binary data (dimensions, scale and file format are given by the user). There are several visualization methods: Isosurfaces Multiple isosurfaces of different colors and transparencies can be shown. High-quality images are required for this method (low noise).
Direct volume rendering
In direct volume rendering the color and opacity depends on the brightness value in the image. This algorithm is not so sensitive to noise or gradual changes in brightness as the isosurfaces method.
Multiple slices can be displayed, either aligned to a major axis or taken at arbitrary angles. . A different color map (palette) can be attached to each slice. Slices can be opaque, transparent to a given threshold or their transparency can be defined in the color map.