Removal of Particulate Contamination from Solid Surfaces Using Polymeric Micropillars

Hadi Izadi, Navneet Dogra, François Perreault, Cynthia Schwarz, Stefan Simon, T. Kyle Vanderlick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This Research Article describes a novel method for removal of particulate contamination, loosely referred to as dust, from solid surfaces using polymeric micropillars. In this Research Article, we illustrate for the first time that polymeric microfibrils of controlled interfacial and geometrical properties can effectively remove micrometric and submicrometric contaminant particles from a solid surface without damaging the underlying substrate. Once these microfibrils are brought into contact with a contaminated surface, because of their their soft and flexible structure, they develop intimate contact with both the surface contaminants and the substrate. While these intrinsically nonsticky micropillars have minimal interfacial interactions with the substrate, we show that they produce strong interfacial interactions with the contaminant particles, granting the detachment of the particles from the surface upon retraction of the cleaning material. The origin and strength of the interfacial interactions at the interfaces between a contaminant particle and both the substrate and the cleaning materials are thoroughly discussed. Unlike flat substrates of the same material, using microfibrillar structures of controlled interfacial and geometrical properties also allows the elimination of the adsorbed particles from the contact interface. Here we demonstrate that by moving the adsorbed particles from the tip to the side of the fibrils and consequently removing them from the contact interface, polymeric microfibrils can clean all contaminant particles from the surface. The effects of the geometrical and interfacial properties of polymeric micropillars on removing the adsorbed particles from the tips of the pillars are fully discussed. This research is not only important in terms of introducing a novel method which can offer a new paradigm for thorough yet nondestructive cleaning of dust particles from solid surfaces, but also it is of fundamental significance for researchers with interests in exploiting the benefits offered by microstructured surfaces in development of interfacially active materials and devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16967-16978
Number of pages12
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number26
StatePublished - Jul 6 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • adhesion
  • contact electrification
  • micropillars
  • particulate contamination
  • surface cleaning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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