Removal of micrometer size particles from surfaces using laser-induced thermocapillary flow: Experimental results

© 2016 Published by Elsevier Inc.Hypothesis: Reducing particle contaminations on solid and delicate surfaces is of great importance in a number of industries. A new non-destructive method is proposed, which is based on the laser-induced thermocapillary effect for the removal of micron size particles from surfaces. The cleaning mechanism is related to the surface-tension-driven flows produced by the laser heating of thin layer of a cleaning liquid deposited onto a surface contaminated with particles. Experiments: Focusing the laser irradiation into the line laser beam allowed using this method for a large-scale cleaning of surfaces. Hexadecane was used as a cleaning liquid to remove micron-sized polyethylene, Teflon, talc and Al2O3 particles from surfaces of welding glass, carbolite and soft magnetic disc using the line beam of the IR laser. Findings: A good cleaning efficiency was achieved for cases of polyethylene and Teflon particles on both the complete wettable welding glass and the low-wettable soft magnetic disc, while in case of oleophilic talc and Al2O3 particles the effectiveness of the cleaning method was lower on all three substrates investigated. The thermal influence of the laser irradiation on substrates used was measured with infrared camera. It was shown that temperature in the irradiated area during the long-time heating increases insignificantly and cannot cause any damage of the substrate.