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Point defects play a fundamental role in the discovery of new materials due to their strong influence on material properties and behavior. At present, imaging techniques based on transmission electron microscopy (TEM) are widely employed for characterizing point defects in materials. However, current methods for defect detection predominantly involve visual inspection of TEM images, which is laborious and poses difficulties in materials where defect related contrast is weak or ambiguous. Recent efforts to develop machine learning methods for the detection of point defects in TEM images have focused on supervised methods that require labeled training data that is generated via simulation. Motivated by a desire for machine learning methods that can be trained on experimental data, we propose two self-supervised machine learning algorithms that are trained solely on images that are defect-free. Our proposed methods use principal components analysis (PCA) and convolutional neural networks (CNN) to analyze a TEM image and predict the location of a defect. Using simulated TEM images, we show that PCA can be used to accurately locate point defects in the case where there is no imaging noise. In the case where there is imaging noise, we show that incorporating a CNN dramatically improves model performance. Our models rely on a novel approach that uses the residual between a TEM image and its PCA reconstruction.


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