Evaluation of the adhesion forces between dust particles and photovoltaic module surfaces

Rima J. Isaifan, Daniel Johnson, Luis Ackermann, Benjamin Figgis, Mohammed Ayoub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Soiling of Photovoltaic (PV) modules is a growing area of concern due to the adverse effect of dust accumulation on PV performance and reliability. In this work, we report on four fundamental adhesion forces that take place at the first stage of soiling process. These are capillary, van der Waal, electrostatic and gravitational forces. It is found that under high relative humidity, the adhesion mechanism between dust particles and PV module surfaces is dominated by capillary force, while van der Waal force dominates under dry conditions. Moreover, real field data for long soiling periods over solar panels in Qatar were investigated and resulted in proposing a novel modified sigmoid function that predicts a relative humidity inflexion value at which transition in the particulate matter deposition rate takes place from low to high values. Moreover, the effect of surface roughness was investigated by measuring adhesion force over clean glass versus substrates that are coated with in-house developed anti-dust titania thin films.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-421
Number of pages9
JournalSolar Energy Materials and Solar Cells
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • Adhesion
  • Atomic Force Spectroscopy
  • Capillary force
  • Dust particles
  • Qatar
  • Soiling mechanism
  • vander Waal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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