Building towards a universal neural network to segment large materials science imaging datasets

Tiberiu Stan*, Zachary T. Thompson, Peter W. Voorhees

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

5 Scopus citations


Segmentation of large images can be one of the most time-consuming steps in the analysis of materials science datasets. Convolutional neural networks (NNs) have been shown to reduce segmentation time compared to manual techniques, but training a new NN is often required for each dataset. We show that simply combining NN training datasets does not necessarily lead to a NN capable of segmenting multiple types of images. In the present study, we first show that SegNet-based neural networks (NNs) can be trained to accurately segment Al-Zn x-ray computed tomography and Pb-Sn serial sectioning images. Applying the Al-Zn NN to the Pb-Sn test image led to misclassified smudges as dendrites, and misclassified speckles as background. Applying the Pb-Sn NN to the Al-Zn test image was unsuccessful, likely because the Al-Zn dendrites had a higher luminance than the Pb-Sn dendrites. The Mix NN (trained using the combined Al-Zn and Pb-Sn datasets) was better at segmenting the Pb-Sn test image than the Al-Zn test image. This is likely because the Pb-Sn training dataset contained ∼4.5 times as many dendrite pixels as the Al-Zn training dataset, thus the Mix NN was over-tuned to identify Pb-Sn dendrites. Simply combining the training datasets was overall detrimental to NN performance, but assigning different classes to the Al-Zn and Pb-Sn dendrites may lead to enhanced performance in the future. These findings serve as guidelines in the quest to develop a universal NN for segmentation of large materials science datasets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDevelopments in X-Ray Tomography XII
EditorsBert Muller, Ge Wang
ISBN (Electronic)9781510629196
StatePublished - 2019
Event12th SPIE Conference on Developments in X-Ray Tomography 2019 - San Diego, United States
Duration: Aug 13 2019Aug 15 2019

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


Conference12th SPIE Conference on Developments in X-Ray Tomography 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego


  • Aluminum - zinc
  • Lead - tin
  • Machine learning
  • Neural network
  • Semantic segmentation
  • Serial sectioning
  • Solidification
  • X-ray computed tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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