1. What is Static electricity?
Static electricity is the build up of electric charge on the surface of objects that is generated at the atomic level. Everything we interact with is made of atoms, and as a result, anything can hold either a positive, negative or neutral electric charge depending on the balance of electrons and protons that the atoms or molecules of an object contain.
If an atom contains the same number of electrons or protons then it will have a neutral electric charge. However, since electrons can move from one atom to another depending how strongly they are bound, this can affect the polarity of the atom and it’s electric charge. If one element gains an electron, it becomes negatively charged, and if an atom loses an electron, it becomes positively charged. This is called the Triboelectric Effect. When the opposing charges are separated, it is called static electricity.
Some materials such as, glass, hair, nylon, wool tend to release electrons and become positively charged, while others such as, polypropylene, vinyl, silicon and Teflon gain electrons, becoming negatively charged as a result of the Triboelectric Effect.
The ability of material to retain or surrender its electrons depends entirely on the conductivity of that material. For example, Copper is a conductive material that holds on to its electron tightly, while a non-conductive material, such as plastic, easily surrenders its electrons because they are weakly bound to the atom. As a result, sensor surfaces coated with a conductive transparent material such as Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) prevents static charge build up.
2. Does a DSLR sensor produce static charges?
The sensors in new digital cameras today have an anti-static coating to minimize static charge build up and the attraction of dust particles; however, it does not always eliminate all charges and weak residual charges can still remain on the sensor surface.
3. What is fluorine or ITO coating?
ITO (Indium Tin Oxide) coating is a transparent and conductive metal oxide that allows static charges to flow from non-conductive surfaces, such as the glass covering a digital camera sensor. The ITO coating on the sensor lets a static charge dissipate through the circuitry or wiring harness and away from the sensor surface.
The new fluorine coating technique provides the same anti-static and stain resistant protection as Indium Tin Oxide. This technology allows the sensor to be free of most static charges.
4. What are the differences between “static forces” and “atomic forces”?
Static forces refer to build up of static charges on the sensor that can attract particles of opposite charge. With the help of anti-static coatings, this tendency is reduced to a large extent but not entirely eliminated.
Atomic forces refer to attraction between the atoms that make up dust and that of the sensor. This force is directly proportional to contact points between these two elements. The smoother the surface of the sensor, the more contact points between the sensor and dust particles are created and the stronger the attraction force becomes between objects. However, this force is independent of static charges and cannot be eliminated or reduced by antistatic coating. This is the reason why dust particles still attach to these surfaces despite anti static coating applied to them.
5. What Makes Zeeion® Blowers unique?
Ordinary silicone is used in construction of regular blowers for sensor cleaning, including early generation digital cameras bodies. However, the Zeeion® blower by VisibleDust uses a new silicone compound called Silicone RX.
Silicone RX used in the Zeeion® blower generates both positive and negative ions with a ratio favoring more negative ions. The negative charge produced by the Zeeion® eliminates dust and residual electrostatic charges from the anti-static coated sensor surface. This technique is refered to as a passive and selective ionization and eliminates the need for battery or electric current to induce a charge to the blower.
The anti-static capability of silicone RX used in Zeeion ® is weak compared to an electronic ionizer, generating ions in the range of 600-1200 per cubic centimeter. The battery-operated ionizers generate ions of equal amount (both positive and negative) in the range of 200,000 to 2,000,000 per cubic centimeter. This is the reason why most air purifiers use negative ions to eliminate airborne dust particles.
Negative ions force dust particles to clump together and eventually are trapped by either a positively charged plate or simple filtration system. Since most sensor surfaces in new digital cameras are coated with an anti-static material such as Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) or Fluorine, it is unnecessary to use high-powered and battery-operated anti-static ionizers to neutralize the weak static charges on the sensor surface. Doing so can create an adverse effect on the automatic sensor cleaning system. Therefore, the Zeeion® blower is best suited for this task without the risk of damage to the camera
6. What are the differences between the Zeeion® and a battery-powered ionizer blower?
The Zeeion® blower is a weak selective ionizer that generates more negative ions than positive ions in the range of 600 to1200 per cubic centimeter. This is enough charge to remove the weak residual static charge from the coated sensor surface without disabling the sensor cleaning system unlike a high-powered electronic ionizer.
In addition, most electric or battery-powered ionizers use high voltage to ionize air molecules and produce large amounts of both negative and positive ions within the range of 200,000 to 2,000,000 per cubic centimeter.
Therefore, the Zeeion® blower with its weak and selective ion generation capability should be used for sensor dust and sensor static charge removal. It is not designed for surfaces that require high levels of ion production.
7. What are the adverse effects of using high-powered battery-operated ionizer blowers inside the sensor chamber?
Beside the image sensor, dust and particulate matter can also attach to the internal part of sensor chamber. Like the camera body, the chamber cavity is made from synthetic plastics or polymers that can hold static charges and attract dust.
By removing the static charges from these surfaces using high-powered electric or battery-operated devices dislodge harmful particles that have attached to the chamber from static charge and then fall onto the sensor. Then during wet cleaning, a loose macroparticle can inadvertently be squeezed against the sensor surface, scratching it.
The Zeeion® being a weak and selective anti-static ionizer blower works only to remove the weak residual charges off the coated sensors of digital cameras. It will not dislodge the macro-particles from deeper cavities that may fall on the sensor.
The small anti static force of the Zeeion® is sufficient enough to clean the sensor without the adverse effects caused by using high-powered electric or battery-operated ionizers.
8. How to avoid disabling automatic sensor cleaning systems?
Most current sensors are equipped with vibration mechanism to shake dust off the sensor onto a sticky collection pad or adhesive tape. Using a high-powered electric or battery-operated ionizers generate large numbers of both positive and negative ions, rendering these collection pads ineffective.
The function behind most sticky collection pads or adhesive tapes is that the static charge of “adhesive” draws the weightless particles to their surfaces, capturing them.
Once these pads are neutralized from the high-powered ionizer, it is difficult for the dust particles to attach to the surface of the collection pad. And, since dust doesn’t follow a gravity route, the weightless particles, shaken from sensor surface by the vibrating cleaning mechanism, continue to wander inside chamber. Eventually the floating particles will settle in undesirable places such as crevices, gaps or the image sensor itself. Those particles being already immobilized on the adhesive tapes may come loose as result creating more contamination in cleaning process.
The Zeeion® blower doesn’t interfere or compete with this dust capture mechanism due to its selective and weak ionizing capability. It is safer and better suited for this task.
9. Are dust blowers efficient cleaning tools?
No, every test using any brand of blower shows inconsistence results. This is because sensors inside the camera are influenced by many factors such as, mirror retraction, airflow, chamber design, camera age, lubricants and moving parts – all contributing to sensor contamination. The important aspect to consider is the long-term and harmful contamination ordinary blowers can produce inside the camera body.
The Zeeion® blower relies on scientific research, advanced technologies and superior materials to provide numerous advantages over ordinary blowers.
10. Is the Zeeion® “safe” to be used on cameras or electronic devices?
Yes. The Zeeion® blower produces both negative and positive with a ratio favoring more negative ions than positive at much lower quantity than air ionizers used in offices or homes.
A simple ionizer used for air purification produces between 2,000,000 and 200,000,000 ions per cubic centimeter, where as the Zeeion® generates ions within a range of 600 to 1200 ions per cubic centimeter.
Both negative and positive ions can co-exist in any environment until they come in contact with objects of an opposite charge. In some environments such as a waterfall the negative ions may take over positive ions in numbers. In other settings, such as a congested highway, the positive ions can be dominant; where as, in a controlled environment such as semiconductor facility, the ratio is controlled and kept neutral.
11. Does silicone or silicone RX generate strong static charges?
No, Silicone RX and regular silicone generate similar static charges, which are quite low compared to other materials. There are many reputable camera accessories made from regular silicone such as blowers, camera body armor, lens hoods and components used in construction of camera bags.
12. What are incorrect ways to measure the static charge of a blower?
Since the human body is made up of 98% water, it can hold a large amount of electric static charges (10-20 Kv). This is usually generated when a body is in motion and can be greatly increased when walking on surfaces such as, wooden floors or carpet in a dry climate condition.
The resting body produces less than 0.5 Kv of electric static charge.
As a result, holding an object, including any blower, in a high static environment, or when in motion, can register abnormal readings due to the additional charge transferred from the body to the blower.
Taking static charge readings in this way is inaccurate and misleading for the consumer and is often used as an advertising tactic to give credit to lower quality imitation blowers and products.
To provide an accurate reading, the body should be at rest or grounded while taking a reading of a blower using a static charge meter or subtracting the static charge reading of the body from the total registration when performing a static charge test. This will provide an accurate and proper static charge reading.
The following results were obtained when the body of test subject was at rest, minimizing the static charge build up from the body when holding the following blowers.
Silicone Rx blower = 0.5-3.0 Kv static charge
Regular Silicone blower = 0.5-3.0 Kv static charge
Rubber blower = 0.1-2.0 Kv static charges
Resting body = Less than 0.5 Kv static charge
Walking body on wooden floor with rubber shoes during peaks storage = 10-20Kv static charges
Test person + holding any brand of blower after walking = 10-20 Kv static charge
It is important to note that during the test brining the body close to the testing device will result in a higher reading.
13. What is the safest way to perform sensor cleaning?
Before using or working with any electronic device such as a digital camera, make sure you are grounded. This will ensure that any electric static discharge from your own body will not be transferred through the sensitive electronics in your device or digital camera.
The best approach is to use grounding equipments such as those sold in many electronic stores to avoid any risk.
During sensor cleaning or when approaching electronic devices, the body should be at rest first with proper grounding. You can also use devices such as anti-static bracelets to prevent static charge build up.
14. Do “HEPA filters” create additional static charge in a room?
HEPA filters can remove as much as 99.9% of the moisture from the air, so when using a blower in this environment more static charge will be created. During the winter cold air can also increase the static charge.
During the summertime the water molecules in the air help electrons to dissipate from the human body and other objects reducing their static charge. Therefore, it is care should be taken when working with electronic devices in dry, cold environments.
HEPA filters also remove moisture and contaminants from the air; however, it provides reservoir with moisture creates environment for fungus growth. The spores from fungus are chemical resistant. Any blowing might transfer these spores to camera cavities or lenses. We all know that problem with old lenses are fungus growth.
Zeeion® uses a small translucent filter to avoid these problems. The Zeeion® filter doesn’t remove moisture or promote fungus growth.
15. How long does it takes for Zeeion ® to refill itself with air after initial squeeze?
It takes on average of 1.1 second. It seems to be slow compared to regular blower. However, the proper method is to blow air at the sensor once and pause a few second before applying the second blow again. The less number of blows at the sensor provide least amount of disturbances and reducing the risk of bombarding the sensor with loose particles. Sudden rush intake of air from tiny hole by ordinary blowers results in more contacts between air molecules. This air generates more static charges when blown at the sensor.
16. What about the size advantages of Zeeion®?
The small size of Zeeion® makes it easier to carry inside the camera bag compared to large bulky blowers. In addition electronic ionizers are banned from being taken on board of an airplane when travelling. The Zeeion® can be carried safely anywhere.
17. What about dead pixel, black spot or stubborn dust?
We all have come across the situation that the above phenomenon seen on the image sensor could not be explained. This is due to the fact that blower can causes some sort of damage due to its projectile action of forcing sands and other particles onto the sensor at high speed. This is similar to damage caused by gravel landing on the windshield at high speed causing chips.
Filters are placed to prevent this kind of damages. Both front and back filters can be replaced. The body of Zeeion® can be washed once the front and back filters are taken out. The replacement filters are sold separately.
18. Does the one-way valve on the front of the blower help reduce dust intake?
Yes, the front valve closes upon air intake while the back of the blower draws air into the chamber away from the contamination source. The result is clean, uncontaminated air directed at the sensor. This is a unique feature of Zeeion® blower.
19. Why does Zeeion® cost more than other blowers?
Like any innovative product, the Zeeion ® blower is made with materials that are more complex to manufacture requiring additional development and research to produce. In addition, any silicone derivative costs more than rubber or latex counter part.
Zeeion® blower is an innovative safe product that is highly effective for sensor dust removal. Built on scientific research, advanced technologies and quality materials providing numerous advantages over ordinary blowers.
It is a selective ionizer with weak anti static capabilities made specifically for sensor dust removal. It does not disable the automatic sensor cleaning system of cameras as most high powered electronic ionizers do. Therefore, it is not designed to remove static charges from surfaces requiring high generation of ions of both positive and negative as electronic or battery operated ionizers do. Zeeion® blower is specifically designed as a sensor cleaning tool.
Zeeion® with its patented features is the safest and most efficient non-contact dust removal tool used by many professional photographers.