Fundamental Studies of Adhesion of Dust to PV Module Surfaces: Chemical and Physical Relationships at the Microscale

Lawrence Kazmerski, Antonia Sonia Diniz, Cristiana Maia, Marcelo Viana, Suellen Costa, Pedro Brito, Claudio Campos, Lauro Macheto Neto, Sergio de Morais Hanriot, Leila de Oliveira Cruz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus Citations


Photovoltaic (PV) module soiling is a growing area of concern for performance and reliability. This paper provides evaluations of the fundamental interactions of dust/soiling particles with several PV module surfaces. The purpose is to investigate the basic mechanisms involving the chemistry, morphology, and resulting particle adhesion to the first photon-incident surface. The evaluation and mapping of the chemistry and composition of single dust particles collected from operating PV module surfaces are presented. The first correlated direct measurements of the adhesive force of individual grains from field-operating collectors on identical PV module glass are reported, including correlations with specific compositions. Special microscale atomic force microscopy techniques are adapted to determine the force between the particle and the module glass surface. Results are presented for samples under dry and moisture-exposed conditions, confirming the effects of cementation for surfaces having soluble mineral and/or organic concentrations. Additionally, the effects of hydrocarbon fuels on the enhanced bonding of soiling particles to surfaces are determined for samples from urban and highly trafficked regions. Comparisons between glass and dust-mitigating superhydrophobic and superhydrophilic coatings are presented. Potential limitations of this proximal probe technique are discussed in terms of results and initial proof-of-concept experiments.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number7419854
Pages (from-to)719-729
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Journal of Photovoltaics
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2011-2012 IEEE.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-69133


  • Adhesion
  • characterization
  • composition
  • dust
  • microscale
  • mitigation
  • module
  • performance
  • photovoltaics
  • reliability


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