Electrostatic dust- collection systems that comprise wire grids connected to lightweight, low-power high-voltage sources have been invented for preventing the accumulation of dust on surfaces. Intended originally for use in keeping spacecraft solar panels free of dust, these systems could also be used on Earth to keep dust off such critical surfaces as those of semiconductor surfaces that await processing, highly sensitive optical instruments, and optoelectronic devices.

The wire grid in a system of this type is strung over the surface to be kept clean, then charged to a high potential to remove any dust from the surface by electrostatic attraction. Unlike prior systems developed to keep surfaces free of dust, systems of this type both contain no moving parts and can operate unattended.

This work was done by Brian Wilcox, R. Scott Cozy, and Mike Newell of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.