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Dust at 5000x

A Fine Eye for Dust

Solar energy’s natural enemy is dust and soot that obscures solar panels, causing an estimated $15 billion per year in lost productivity. Environmental engineering graduate student Michael Valerino has been taking a very close look (magnification 5000x) at dust samples from solar panels in Gandhinagar, India to try to figure out the best ways to solve the problem. This mouth-like blob he found -- less than one-tenth the thickness of a human hair --is likely a piece of wind-blown dust coated in organic carbon from burning wood or coal.