Sequence2Self: Self-supervised image sequence denoising of pixel-level spray breakup morphology

Ji Hun Oh, Eric Wood, Eric Mayhew, Alan Kastengren, Tonghun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Optical imaging of fast and transient phenomena such as the turbulent breakup of liquid sprays exhibit low signal-to-noise ratios due to the limited illumination intensity relative to the short exposure time. Image denoising is required to facilitate physical studies over these data but is challenging due to the absence of clean ground-truths and the stringency of the denoising task (e.g., strong and complex noise, limited resolution, preserving physical fidelity), preventing supervised and existing un-/self-supervised deep learning methods. To this end, Sequence2Self (Seq2S) is proposed, an extension of Self2Self (S2S) to image sequences that leverages both the signal's spatial and temporal correlation. Seq2S is demonstrated on time-resolved x-ray phase contrast imaging of liquid jet fuel sprays in a gas turbine combustor, which possesses all of challenges detailed above. Experiments are conducted across four fuels with different breakup morphology using various state-of-the-art methods. Overall, many of the methods failed and Seq2S was most successful: (1) Accurate spray structures were reconstructed with consistent evolution across frames void of artifacts. (2) The performance was robust, invariant to the hyperparameter choice. (3) Computational time is short and can be made eligible for real-time denoising. In particular, the images denoised by Seq2S showed spray droplet diameter distributions with near-zero Kullback–Leibler divergence (0.01 ± 0.01) to a cleaner reference, whereas the second best method yielded 0.06 ± 0.03. This suggests that Seq2S can be reliably used prior to subsequent quantitative spray analyses as it retains (if not, improves) the statistical physical properties of the data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106957
JournalEngineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence
StatePublished - Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Convolutional neural networks
  • Droplet analysis
  • Image and video denoising
  • Liquid spray breakup
  • Self-supervised learning
  • X-ray phase contrast imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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