Microsc Microanal. 2022 Jun 10:1-11. doi: 10.1017/S1431927622012065. Online ahead of print.
Artificial intelligence (AI) promises to reshape scientific inquiry and enable breakthrough discoveries in areas such as energy storage, quantum computing, and biomedicine. Scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM), a cornerstone of the study of chemical and materials systems, stands to benefit greatly from AI-driven automation. However, present barriers to low-level instrument control, as well as generalizable and interpretable feature detection, make truly automated microscopy impractical. Here, we discuss the design of a closed-loop instrument control platform guided by emerging sparse data analytics. We hypothesize that a centralized controller, informed by machine learning combining limited a priori knowledge and task-based discrimination, could drive on-the-fly experimental decision-making. This platform may unlock practical, automated analysis of a variety of material features, enabling new high-throughput and statistical studies.