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DeStripe: frequency-based algorithm for removing stripe noises from AFM images

Shu-wen W Chen and Jean-Luc Pellequer*

Author Affiliations

CEA, iBEB, Service de Biochimie et Toxicologie Nucléaire, F-30207 Bagnols sur Cèze, France

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BMC Structural Biology 2011, 11:7  doi:10.1186/1472-6807-11-7

Published: 1 February 2011



Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a relatively recently developed technique that shows a promising impact in the field of structural biology and biophysics. It has been used to image the molecular surface of membrane proteins at a lateral resolution of one nanometer or less. An immediate obstacle of characterizing surface features in AFM images is stripe noise. To better interpret structures at a sub-domain level, pre-processing of AFM images for removing stripe noises is necessary. Noise removal can be performed in either spatial or frequency domain. However, denoising processing in the frequency domain is a better solution for preserving edge sharpness.


We have developed a denoising protocol, called DeStripe, for AFM bio-molecular images that are contaminated with heavy and fine stripes. This program adopts a divide-and-conquer approach by dividing the Fourier spectrum of the image into central and off-center regions for noisy pixels detection and intensity restoration; it is also applicable to other images interfered with high-density stripes such as those acquired by the scanning electron microscope. The denoising effect brought by DeStripe provides better visualization for image objects without introducing additional artifacts into the restored image.


The DeStripe denoising effect on AFM images is illustrated in the present work. It allows extracting extended information from the topographic measurements and implicitly enhances the molecular features in the image. All the presented images were processed by DeStripe with the raw image as the only input without any requirement for other prior information. A web service, webcite, is available for running DeStripe.