Engineering, 2013, 5, 575-578 Published Online October 2013 (
New Approach for Limited-Angle Problems in Electron
Microscope Based on Compressed Sensing
Marc Vila Oliva, Hamed Hamid Muhammed*
Royal Institute of Technology KTH, School of Technology and Health STH Alfred Nobels, Huddinge, Sweden
Email: mmvo@kth. se, *ha
Received 2013
New advances within the recently rediscovered field of Compressed Sensing (CS) have opened for a great variety of
new possibilities in the field of image reconstruction and more specifically in medical image reconstruction. In this
work, a new approach using a CS-based algorithm is proposed and used in order to solve limited-angle problems
(LAPs), lik e the ones that typically occur in computed tomography or electron microscope. This approach is based on a
variant of the Robbins-Monro stochastic approximation procedure, developed by Egaziarian, using regularization by a
spatially adaptive filter. This proposal consists on filling the gaps of missing or unobserved data with random noise and
enabling a spatially adaptiv e denoising filter to regularize the data and reveal the underlying topology. This method was
tested on different 3D transmission electron microscope datasets that presented different missing data artifacts (e.g,
wedge or c one shape). The test results show a great potential for solving LAPs using the proposed technique.
Keywords: Co mpresse d Sensing; I mage Rec onstructi o n; Adapti ve Filters; Limited Angle Problem; TEM
1. Introduction
A common problem in Transmission Electron Micro-
scope (TEM) is the li mited-angle view, where large gaps
of missing data are present in the acquired volume. An
LAP occurs when having missing or corrupted data from
a certain angle, which makes the acquisition unreliable
and therefore you cannot trust the results. This group of
LAPs is due to various technical and fu ndamental limita-
tions on the minimum and maximum attainable tilt an-
gles of the instrumentation that are used to acquire the
data . Theref ore, th e data i s confined to a limited-angular -
range acquisition which prevents its appropriate visuali-
zation and rendering.
The goal of our work is to estimate the missing or cor-
rupted data from TEM datasets by applying a new strat-
egy instead of the classically used techniques, such as
POCS (Projection Onto Convex Sets), [1-3], which is
widely used d ue to its easy imple mentation but offers poor
results, or the more sophisticated ones like PICCS (Prior
Image Constrained Compressed Sensing) or TV (Total
Variation) [4], which are more complicated solutions.
In this paper, we study a new variant of the already
mentioned method of Egiazarian, [5]. We present and
explain how the technique has been adapted and applied,
and present the obtained results and a brief discussion
along with the conclusions extracted from the results.
2. Method
In [6-8], it is shown that under CS assumptions, stable
reconstruction of partly unknown data is possible and
that in some cases the reconstruction can be exact. These
techniques typically rely on convex optimization with a
penalty expressed by the l0 or l1 norm, which is exploited
to enable the assumed sparsity [9]. Therefore, it results in
parametric modelling of the solution and in problems that
are commonly solved by mathematical algorithms. In [5],
it is proposed to replace the tradition al parametric model-
ling used in CS by a non-parametric one. This non-para-
metric modelling is imple mented by the u se of a spatially
adaptive filter. The regularization imposed by the l0 or l1
norm is essentially only a tool to design some non-linear
filtering. This implicit regularization is replaced by ex-
plicit filtering, exploiting a spatially adaptive filter, which
is sensitive to the features and details of the image. If this
filter is properly designed, there is a chance to achieve
better results than those obtained by the common method
based on formulation of imaging. In imaging, the regula-
rization with global sparsity penalties (e.g, lp norms in
some domain) often results in an inefficient filtering. It is
known that a higher quality result can be achieved when
the regularization criteria are local and adaptive.
The applied method to reconstruct the “dead zones”
(e.g. with corrupted or missing data) is carried out by a
recursive algorith m based on s patially ad aptive deno ising
Corresponding author.
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filtering [5]. Each iteration consists of providing data to a
block-matching and a spatially adaptive 3D filtering al-
gorithm, called BM3D, by the injection of random noise
in the unobserved portion of the data in frequency do-
main. To carry out block-matching and block-filtering,
the filter implemented in [10] was used with some modi-
fications such as the removal of the Wiener filter in order
to speed up the algorithm and using Haar wavelet for the
third-dimension transform. In addition, some parameters
of the block hard-thresholding (HT) were optimized to
speed up the computations, such as N1 = 4, N2 = 12, Ns =
31 and tau_match = 1800. This peculiar fi lter works in the
image domain. It attenuates the noise and reveals new
details and features of the corrupted image at each itera-
tion. The process ends when a specific number of itera-
tions are performed.
The algorithm is ruled by the following recursive sys-
( )
( )( )( )
( )
( )
222 2
ˆ0, 0
ˆ ˆ ˆˆ1*
ˆ1 *,1
kk k
yyy yS
yyS k
= =
==−ϒ− −⋅
ϒΦϒ++ −⋅≥
filtering block
estimation of unknown da ta in Fourier doma i n
y1 know n da t a in F o urier domain
γ speed step of the algorithm
(1 S) mask to select the region of the unknown da-
Fast Four ier Tran sfor m
Inverse Fast Fourier Transform
Gaussi an noise
Image data (denoted as y) is divided into a known por-
tion (denoted as y1) and an unknown portion (denoted as
y2) as follows:
( )
ySyS y
=∗+ −∗
= +
The procedure of [5] was applied to reconstruct 2D
images (e.g. the data in Figure 1(b)) and achieve a per-
fect reconstruction, while we apply the method to 3D
TEM volume images (e.g. the data in Figure 2) by split-
ting the 3D problem into a number of different 2D prob-
lems and solve them separately using a different con-
figuration for each case due to the variability of the dead
zone from slice to slice. For example, for the case pre-
sented in Figure 2, when taking horisontal slices in the
xy-plane in Fourier domain.
3. Datasets
Three different datasets were used in this work.
Figure 1. 2D limited-angle example.
Figure 2. 3D limited-angle example in the image domain.
3.1. Hansandrey Cryst allography Dataset
It consists of a 3D artificial crystallography of size 100 ×
100 × 100 voxels in.mrc format, [11]. It was created by a
simulator-software to evaluate the performance of TEM
reconstruction algor ithms [12]. In this ca se, we simulated
a missing wedge and a missing cone in Fourier domain
(as shown Figure 3) to apply the reconstruction proce-
dure and evaluate th e qu a lity o f th e result.
3.2. Viral DNA Gatekeeper Dataset
It consists of a 3D model of a viral DNA gatekeeper, of
size 100 × 100 × 100 voxels in.mrc format, obtained by
cryoelectron microscopy technique. For this case, we
only simulated a missing cone in the data to be able to
apply the reconstruction method and evaluate its perfor-
mance of filling up the missing cone.
3.3. Philip’s Crystallography Dataset
It is a 3D model of a protein molecule acquired by a
TEM but suffering from an LAP since it was not possible
to tilt the specimen more than 45 degrees. Therefore, the
3D model has (in Fourier domain) a missing/corrupted
cone with a vertex angle of 90 degrees. The size of this
3D model is 80 × 80 × 80 voxels in.mrc format.
4. Experimental Results
The peak signal-to-no ise ratio (PSNR) is used as an eva-
luation parameter to compare the test results. The PSNR
is defined as follows:
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is the maximum voxel value of the 3D
model, I is the original 3D model, and
is the recon-
structed 3D model.
PSNR values of 47.6 dB, 36.5 dB and 46.2 dB were
obtained for the 3D reconstruction of the Hansandrey
dataset in the cases of missing wedge, missing cone when
considering xy-plane slices (i.e. horizontal slices in Fig-
ure 3) and missing cone when considering xz-plane slic-
es (i.e. radial slices in Figure 3), respectively. We can
visually evaluate the quality of the best reconstructed
result in Figure 4 (an open-source 3D visualization sof t-
ware called Chimera was used). Regarding the result of
the case of missing cone when using xy-plane slices, we
attribute this poor PSNR value to the large “dead zones”
(i.e. empty discs) present in the slices at the edges of the
3D model. The algorithm has a limitation and fails in
filling these large gaps of missing data.
Figure 3. Hansandrey dataset. (a) Missing wedge; (b) Miss-
ing cone.
For the viral DNA gatekeeper dataset, the reconstruc-
tion ran as expected and a PSNR value of 45.9 dB was
obtained. Visual comparison between the original 3D
model and the reconstructed one, shown in Figure 5,
assures that this high PSNR value corresponds to good
visual similarity. The differences between the original
3D model and the reconstruction are almost negligible.
In the case of Philip’s crystallography dataset, the re-
construction result and the original 3D acquisition are
presented in Figure 6. In this case, there is no reference
3D model that can be used to verify whether the recon-
struction result is satisfac tor y or not.
Visually speaking, we cannot detect large differences
(a) (b)
Figure 4. Reconstruction of the Hansandrey dataset with
missing wedge. (a) Original; (b) Reconstructed.
(a) (b)
Figure 5. Reconstruction of the viral DNA gatekeeper data-
set. (a) Original model; (b) Missing cone; (c) Reconstruc-
(a) (b)
Figure 6. Reconstruction of Philip’s crystallography dataset.
(a) Acquisition; (b) Proposed reconstruction.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. ENG
between the original model and the reconstructed one,
but the difference in terms of a calculated PSNR value of
21 dB is quite considerable. But this doesn’t mean that
the method doesn’t work properly. It reflects that new
details appear in the reconstructed volume which could
be closer to the real 3D model without missing data .
5. Discussion and Conclusions
The purpose of our work was to apply a new method to
solve LPAs (e.g. with a missing cone or a missing wedge
of the acquired image-data volume) in TEM data. The
method was applied to different d atasets and the resu lting
reconstructed image volumes were evaluated. Good 3D
reconstruction results were obtained. The PSNR values
were calculated for all resulting reconstructed images.
These PSNR values were better than those obtained us-
ing existing commonly used techniques, such as POCS.
The approa ch proposed in our work can be cons idered as
a great breakthrough, because for data acquisitions li-
mited to [45˚, 45˚], POCS results in an error-rate ar ound
40%, while our approach achieves an error-rate lower
than 1% for the Hansandrey and the viral DNA gatekee-
per cases when 50% of the acquired data is missing.
However, different acquisition technique and proce-
dures will produce data with different sparsity characte-
ristics in frequency domain, which in its turn will affect
the performance of our method. For example, if a large
portion of the high frequency zones of the acquired data
is missing or corrupted, then it gets much more difficult
to reconstruct the missing part of the 3D model because
the algorithm doesn’t have e n ough prior information.
Therefore, we have to take under consideration that a
test measure is needed to determine which datasets, with
the presence of missing data, are valid or not to apply the
proposed method and get good 3D reconstruction resu lts.
If such a test is performed, it will be possible to know if
the obtained 3D reconstruction result is supposed to be
similar to the real original model (i.e. without missing
data) or not. Then it will be possible to know if the 3D
reconstruction of Philip’s crystallography dataset (pre-
sented in Figure 6) is correct or not.
One of the most exciting research projects that could
emerge from our work is the possibility to develop a new
optimized acquisition technique or procedure for TEM.
In addition, achieving a considerable reduction of radia-
tion dose applied to the specimen. Another possibility is
to adapt the proposed method and apply it to other kinds
of modalities like Computed Tomography (CT), Mag-
netic Resonance Imaging (MRI), astronomy, geophysical
exploration or other type of electron microscope tech-
niques. Since a complete reconstruction of the Hansand-
rey model took 32 hours in a common laptop (4-core 2.0
GHz and 4 Gb RAM), it would be necessary to speed up
the algorithm by implementing it using GPU techniques
(e.g. CUDA, OpenCL).
6. Acknowledgements
This paper would not have been possible without the
support and help of Dr. Philip Koeck (from the Royal
Institute of Technolog y KTH, Sweden) who supplied th e
Hansandrey dataset and Philip’s crystallography dataset.
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