2017 Graduate Fellows

Di Sun

My research area is focused on developing self-cleaning surface system for solar panels. Dust accumulation will cause great efficiency loss on solar panels and there are no self-cleaning surface solar panels. People has explored hydrophobic coatings, hydrophilic coatings and textured patterning for self-cleaning surface development. Our technology brings all these idea together. By microfabrication process, we create hydrophilic patterns on a hydrophobic background. Water droplets can be systematically guided along this patterned surface under orthogonal vibration and clean away the contaminants. The system is an active self-cleaning surface system, compared with the traditional surface modification technologies mentioned above, by dislodging surface contaminants away from solar panel cover glass with water droplets and vibration. The demo is currently on the wafer scale. I will optimize the texture and coating materials, explore low cost large scale coating process and run field tests by tracking solar panel efficiency.

Advisor Karl F. Bohringer – Electrical Engineering

Read about Di’s research in the Böhringer lab in our January 2018 highlights.


“Providing clean energy to the inhabitants of our planet is a major challenge to future generations. The University of Washington is to be congratulated for establishing an Institute where faculty and students can work together to tackle the difficult global challenge of energy sustainability.”
– Mildred Dresselhaus, Professor of Physics and Electrical Engineering, Emerita and Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“Energy competition is opening up in a variety of ways, the push for carbon control will continue, and the rate of technology advancement is exponential. All the things I’ve seen at the CEI are just perfect for the way we see things going in energy. You guys are at the cutting edge. We’re counting on you.”
– Ronald Litzinger, President, Edison Energy