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American Museum of Natural History ​so hello our team which consists of Casper Cena and myself I've been working on our fourth year nanotechnology design project for the past few months on nano Titan a self-cleaning hydrophobic film so the problem is the use of solar panels has been increasing over the past few years a problem with owning a large solar farm is that they must be periodically cleaned dirt and grime buildup on the surface can diminish the efficiency of the solar panels as shown here we estimate that the performance degrades at a rate of point three percent to four percent per day so there are ways to countering this problem one is installing a system that will automatically clean the panel's either with a sprinkler system or a rolla I shown on the top image another solution is hiring a cleaning service that will clean the panels at the location however these methods are expensive and inconvenient especially for remote areas or areas within AutoCAD plumbing so our proposal is to create a hydrophobic film that can be adhered onto the solar panels and that will keep that will keep the panel's clean passively the customer requirements for a selfcleaning product our first it must be highly transparent so it does not interfere with the efficiency of this of the solar panels secondly it must be durable and long-lasting so that once it is installed it could be it could possibly clean the panel's without too much concern another is additionally it must be scalable for mass production safe and it must be cheap the film works dude its hydrophobic nature as most solar panels are placed at an angle the water droplets will roll off the surface and remove any dirt buildup along with it an advantage of our design over a cleaning service or sprinkler system it is that it is passive it does so it does not need to be maintained once it is installed another advantage is that it is cheap the materials we have chosen for this project are were inexpensive per surface area and they were durable in addition we have also considered current manufacturing methods so that our product could still be compatible with them and finally our product is stable and will not be affected if there were to be cleaned so this is how our film was made we first cleaned a untreated polyethylene terephthalate polymer or PT film the second step was to imprint it using an aluminum aluminum anodized oxide template with the anteed hisa blair this increased his surface area and the anti adhesive layer on the AO was had had a anti adhesive layer onto it so far easy separation in step 3 we created hydroxyl groups on the surface with oxygen plasma and step 4 we fluorinated the surface and in step 5 we applied a fluorinated oil to it the reason why we had to oxygen plasma treated and at the flooring HC lane was to allow the fluorinated oil which has a very low surface energy to adhere to the film a key challenge of our approach was there was a limited number of papers with the a BTS civilization also known as a three amino propyl try ethically sealy another challenge was the imprinting of the PT to create nanostructures as this method was rarely used additionally crystalline polymers which were chosen for their mechanical properties exhibited a higher glass transition temperature comparator amorphous counterpart and finally there were only a few papers about the oxygen plasma treatment of PT so the first test that we performed was the AFM imaging of the film's nano imprinting of the AO template a pattern that high pillars of a dimer about 300 nanometers and a height about 50 nanometers the anti adhesive layer on dao allowed us to reuse the AO template multiple times without damaging yet damaging it and the film the image on the Left shows the three-dimensional view of our film and the image on the right shows the topography of the nanostructures on the film the next test was the transmittance test at various stages of our product to minimize the loss of the solar panels loss in the solar panels efficiency we needed to reduce the amount of absorbance by our product we test the triplicates of our PT control fluorinated PT and the fluorinated with oil so the they all end they all had a thickness about 2.5 millimeters standard deviations were not shown as the maximum was about three percent so the results show that the PT film control and the floor and apt had similar transmittances about 75% to eighty-five percent from the range of 400 nanometers to eleven hundred nanometers but with the addition of the fluorinated oil the the transmittance improved to about eighty-five percent to a ninety-three percent in the same wavelength range contact angle measurements is a common way to measure the hybrid hydrophobicity of material generally if a material has the water contact angle of greater than 90 degrees it is considered to be hydrophobic hydrophobicity is the property that we want to give our product self-cleaning ability so our PT control film how about 75 degrees of a contact angle are imprinted PT about 70 degrees and our final product had about 90 degrees the improvement in contact angle was not what we were hoping for was not as high as we were hoping for us we were hoping for angles of closer to 100 degrees additionally the slide off ankles were not as good as we hoped as this air as the water did not slide off easily when the glass I'm sorry when the sample was being held her three degree totes oh sorry in summary the nanostructures were successfully imprinted onto the surface of the PT films through polymer


melting the we have speculated that the oxygen plasma treatment felt uniform they create hydroxyl groups on the film surface after the fluorination with the fluorine sealing the change in contact angle is not as high as we expect it and caught sliding off angles comparer control was not a drastic change having completed our first round of fabrication and testing we found out the results using the PT film when we're in satisfactory they didn't meet our requirements patterning the more crystalline PT was proven difficult the oxygen plasma treatment wasn't as effective as we'd hoped and so the fluorination and the subsequent oil addition wasn't working as we desired an alternate design was needed to try to yield the the results that we wanted so the new design had the same requirements needed to be a transparent durable and easy to fabricate as so the so we went floor was a four-step design using glass so what we started with was just plain microscope slides these are commercially available and we cut them to smaller sizes and then we clean the surface with oxygen plasma with ocean plasma and that also served the purpose of adding oxygen groups to the surface after that the oxygen groups were reacted with apts again and that was done by essentially immersing the the treated samples in an aqueous apt a solution letting it sit for supplements and in blowing a dry under nitrogen the third step was to react the apts groups on the surface with an ethyl terminated PD PDMS so that was done by adding a few drops to the surface letting it spread out curing in the oven and then cleaning off any excess with isopropanol so I'm like key challenges with this design or commonly when working with glass the what people do is clean it with piranha solution so we wanted to avoid using piranha solution due to the it's a fairly dangerous chemicals we wanted to avoid it's used so we went with the Ashland plasma however we didn't have the working of oxygen plasmas tricky we didn't have the best settings for our fire design and so we ended up using literature values which most probably didn't yield the the best cleaning and oxygen group coverage that we wanted and so because we didn't get the laser the optimum coverage we didn't get that as good a PMS layer and so the hydrophobicity did suffer a bit however after finishing fabrication we did start with our testing and so first thing we did was transmittance and against which has been is important because we don't want to reduce the performance of the solar panel by blocking any of the light that will pass through our our substrate so as you can see we did achieve approximately ninety percent transmittance so this is both in the control and in the treated class and that the drop after about 300 below 350 is in the UV ranges is expected and we were focused on the 400 and up measurements were done in triplicate on a UV spectrometer and we just placed the sample in the path of the laser and we took measurements that way the next steps we did was contact angle and so again this is a direct correlation to the amount of how hydrophobic or surface was and so our glass control showed an angle of about 55 degrees and after treatment and went up to 103 103 does meet our requirement of about above a hundred and it's interesting to note that this design does yield a better contact angle than the PT solution I so an important factor this is related to the contact angle is how the sort of the water flows on our surface and so for our self-cleaning application we wanted to be self clean we need the flow to be very consistent in uniform and notice that in the video above this is a the saw the water flow on the control surface so this is just pure glass and notice how it kind of sticks to the surface and pools at the bottom edge so above me there's a video and this is of our treated sample so notice how the water is flowing much better now there's none of that pooling so this should improve the the cleaning capabilities of a surface a lot a bit of a summary of our results so we were able with this change in design we're able to achieve contact angles greater than 100 degrees aha and it was a noticeable change we went from 55-200 so the treatment was effective measuring the transparency we saw that we didn't we had very good transparency we definitely met our requirements we are not expecting large losses in the solar panels efficiency and finally we believe that the solution will also be very compatible with current solar panels there's already a glass layer involved in the fabrication of the panel as a final protective layer so we can either treat the existing glass or replace it during manufacturing with this was a design project coming to a close it's important to look back at the work we did and look at some of the future directions that the project could take and first we're thinking of optimizing a lot of the surface treatments since we use a lot of the lot of literature values we suspect that the treatments weren't as effective as they could be with improved settings we probably yield much better that's better hydrophobic surfaces secondly long-term durability is a very important tests to be done on any surface are you looking at solar panels you really don't want to be replacing these surfaces often solar panels are meant to have long lifetimes and our solution will have to have one that matches it as closely as possible and finally the last thing we look into large-scale production so again we're talking solar panels it's a very up-and-coming technology they're being made in bulk now so we really need our solution to be able compatible with those with mass production that would might require some change in the Asheville design how it's fabricated before we conclude we like to offer some special thanks to her consultant consultant professor Berkeley for all his advice throughout the project Karl Zhang for helping us with the plasma treatments and the G to end lab cafe for allowing us to use his contact angle set up in the q SE and finally dr. howard to see you for helping us with afm here are some references so this is the main works that we used to support our


project some image sources and thank you for listening and you know have any questions right right so we have some literature background to support why we chose this fabrication technique so I'll begin with that so this fabrication process of the glass is actually taken off of another fabrication process that's used with silicon so we just transfer the subject substrate to glass so with the silicon substrate they used it for molding purposes and they claim that they can reuse it for up to like at least a hundred times and they claim to go up to four hundred times although we're not sure about that claim the other thing is that there's a covalent bonding between the atps layer and the PDMS layer which is also like a very strong bond that's hard to break in addition there's some papers which functionalize the glass with a TPS and then cross-linked the ceiling groups for even better for even stronger like resistance to abrasion the other thing is that we have fabricated the glass now close to three weeks ago and we have just like left around that the testing on it and this still seems to exhibit the same contact angle and hydrophobic properties as when we initially fabricated it yes but I'll can quantify it okay yeah sure um so in our initial research into the problem we found some sources that basically did a trial run with cleaning trying to find the optimal time to clean solar panels and they found it to be around two months every cleaning the reason for this was that for a 5-megawatt or five to ten megawatt solar farm which is still relatively small and energy production the cost was about sixty thousand dollars to clean all their panels on the farm at once the cost being about ten dollars or so per panel like per module panel and from that we calculated that to take up about twenty percent of the cost I don't remember off the top of my head but around that number and from that number we calculated what the transparency the minimum transparency should be and how much of an increase in performance that there needs to be in order to justify creating this film and we from from our initial calculations we predict that it should cost around less than one dollar per inch square of the fabricated material for it to be a cost-effective solution with transparency of over eighty five percent which is uh I think we're hitting those targets and do Hostos Community College.

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