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