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At the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Malay Mazumder, a research professor in Boston University‘s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, presented research on solar panels that employ a self-generated electrical pulse to shake off dust.  That’s right, solar panels that clean themselves.  Frankly, I think the little Roomba vacuum they sell at Coscto is pretty exciting (I often wonder exactly which optimization algorithms they used for George; it’s a tricky thing to clean a whole room efficiently while avoiding arbitrarily-placed furniture and walls), so this absolutely blows my mind.

Since a dust layer of 4 g/m^2 can decrease solar power conversion by 40%, you can imagine the ramifications of a self-cleaning solar panel.  Mazumder and his colleagues have developed an electrodynamic transparent screen by depositing indium tin oxide (ITO)—on glass or a clear plastic sheet covering the solar panels.  Electrodes produce a traveling wave of electrostatic and dielectrophoretic forces that lift dust particles from the surface and transport them to the screen’s edges. The researchers found that 90% of deposited dust can be removed by the transparent screen in less than 60 seconds.

For the whole article, please visit: http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=self-cleaning-solar-panels-could-fi-2010-08-22

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