• scanning electron microscope;
  • signal-to-noise ratio;
  • image quality estimation;
  • performance evaluation;
  • micro-nanomanipulation


As an imaging system, scanning electron microscope (SEM) performs an important role in autonomous micro-nanomanipulation applications. When it comes to the sub micrometer range and at high scanning speeds, the images produced by the SEM are noisy and need to be evaluated or corrected beforehand. In this article, the quality of images produced by a tungsten gun SEM has been evaluated by quantifying the level of image signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). In order to determine the SNR, an efficient and online monitoring method is developed based on the nonlinear filtering using a single image. Using this method, the quality of images produced by a tungsten gun SEM is monitored at different experimental conditions. The derived results demonstrate the developed method's efficiency in SNR quantification and illustrate the imaging quality evolution in SEM. SCANNING 9999:1–11, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.