Self-Cleaning Solar Panels

The best places to collect solar energy are also some of the dustiest on Earth. When dirt settles on a solar panel, it blocks sunlight, preventing the panel from efficiently converting rays into electricity.

A solution, according to new research by Malay Mazumder, a research professor in Boston University's department of electrical and computer engineering, is to coat solar cells with an electrically charged material that repels the dust particles. The technology could also be applied to the windshields of helicopters and other vehicles, as well as equipment used on the moon and Mars.