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  1. Non-interferometric quantitative phase imaging based on Transport of Intensity Equation (TIE) has been widely used in bio-medical imaging. However, analytic TIE phase retrieval is prone to low-spatial frequency noise amplification, which is caused by the illposedness of inversion at the origin of the spectrum. There are also retrieval ambiguities resulting from the lack of sensitivity to the curl component of the Poynting vector occurring with strong absorption. Here, we establish a physics-informed neural network (PINN) to address these issues, by integrating the forward and inverse physics models into a cascaded deep neural network. We demonstrate that the proposed PINN is efficiently trained using a small set of sample data, enabling the conversion of noise-corrupted 2-shot TIE phase retrievals to high quality phase images under partially coherent LED illumination. The efficacy of the proposed approach is demonstrated by both simulation using a standard image database and experiment using human buccal epitehlial cells. In particular, high image quality (SSIM = 0.919) is achieved experimentally using a reduced size of labeled data (140 image pairs). We discuss the robustness of the proposed approach against insufficient training data, and demonstrate that the parallel architecture of PINN is efficient for transfer learning.

  2. Abstract

    Due to their low damage tolerance, engineering ceramic foams are often limited to non-structural usages. In this work, we report that stereom, a bioceramic cellular solid (relative density, 0.2–0.4) commonly found in the mineralized skeletal elements of echinoderms (e.g., sea urchin spines), achieves simultaneous high relative strength which approaches the Suquet bound and remarkable energy absorption capability (ca. 17.7 kJ kg−1) through its unique bicontinuous open-cell foam-like microstructure. The high strength is due to the ultra-low stress concentrations within the stereom during loading, resulted from their defect-free cellular morphologies with near-constant surface mean curvatures and negative Gaussian curvatures. Furthermore, the combination of bending-induced microfracture of branches and subsequent local jamming of fractured fragments facilitated by small throat openings in stereom leads to the progressive formation and growth of damage bands with significant microscopic densification of fragments, and consequently, contributes to stereom’s exceptionally high damage tolerance.