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Title: Ion ejection from a permanent-magnet mini-helicon thruster

Abstract

A small helicon source, 5 cm in diameter and 5 cm long, using a permanent magnet (PM) to create the DC magnetic field B, is investigated for its possible use as an ion spacecraft thruster. Such ambipolar thrusters do not require a separate electron source for neutralization. The discharge is placed in the far-field of the annular PM, where B is fairly uniform. The plasma is ejected into a large chamber, where the ion energy distribution is measured with a retarding-field energy analyzer. The resulting specific impulse is lower than that of Hall thrusters but can easily be increased to relevant values by applying to the endplate of the discharge a small voltage relative to spacecraft ground.

Authors:
 [1]
  1. Electrical Engineering Department, University of California, Los Angeles 90095-1594 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22303447
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Physics of Plasmas; Journal Volume: 21; Journal Issue: 9; Other Information: (c) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
70 PLASMA PHYSICS AND FUSION TECHNOLOGY; ELECTRIC POTENTIAL; ELECTRON SOURCES; ENERGY SPECTRA; IONS; MAGNETIC FIELDS; PERMANENT MAGNETS; PLASMA; PULSES; THRUSTERS

Citation Formats

Chen, Francis F. Ion ejection from a permanent-magnet mini-helicon thruster. United States: N. p., 2014. Web. doi:10.1063/1.4896238.
Chen, Francis F. Ion ejection from a permanent-magnet mini-helicon thruster. United States. doi:10.1063/1.4896238.
Chen, Francis F. Mon . "Ion ejection from a permanent-magnet mini-helicon thruster". United States. doi:10.1063/1.4896238.
@article{osti_22303447,
title = {Ion ejection from a permanent-magnet mini-helicon thruster},
author = {Chen, Francis F.},
abstractNote = {A small helicon source, 5 cm in diameter and 5 cm long, using a permanent magnet (PM) to create the DC magnetic field B, is investigated for its possible use as an ion spacecraft thruster. Such ambipolar thrusters do not require a separate electron source for neutralization. The discharge is placed in the far-field of the annular PM, where B is fairly uniform. The plasma is ejected into a large chamber, where the ion energy distribution is measured with a retarding-field energy analyzer. The resulting specific impulse is lower than that of Hall thrusters but can easily be increased to relevant values by applying to the endplate of the discharge a small voltage relative to spacecraft ground.},
doi = {10.1063/1.4896238},
journal = {Physics of Plasmas},
number = 9,
volume = 21,
place = {United States},
year = {Mon Sep 15 00:00:00 EDT 2014},
month = {Mon Sep 15 00:00:00 EDT 2014}
}
  • Direct thrust measurements of a permanent magnet helicon double layer thruster have been made using a pendulum thrust balance and a high sensitivity laser displacement sensor. At the low pressures used (0.08 Pa) an ion beam is detected downstream of the thruster exit, and a maximum thrust force of about 3 mN is measured for argon with an rf input power of about 700 W. The measured thrust is proportional to the upstream plasma density and is in good agreement with the theoretical thrust based on the maximum upstream electron pressure.
  • A compact helicon plasma source was developed as a millimeter-sized ion source for ion beam bioengineering. By employing a stacked arrangement of annular-shaped permanent magnets, a uniform axial magnetic flux density up to 2.8 kG was obtained. A cost effective 118 MHz RF generator was built for adjusting forward output power from 0 to 40 W. The load impedance and matching network were then analyzed. A single loop antenna and circuit matching elements were placed on a compact printed circuit board for 50 {Omega} impedance matching. A plasma density up to 1.1 x 10{sup 12} cm{sup -3} in the 10more » mm diameter tube under the magnetic flux density was achieved with 35 W applied RF power.« less
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  • A small helicon source is used to create dense plasma and inject it into a large chamber. A permanent magnet is used for the dc magnetic field (B-field), making the system very simple and compact. Though theory predicts that better antenna coupling will occur at 27.12 MHz, it was found that 13.56 MHz surprisingly gives even higher density due to practical effects not included in theory. Complete density n and electron temperature T{sub e} profiles are measured at three distances below the source. The plasma inside the source is also measured with a special probe, even under the antenna. Themore » density there is lower than expected because the plasma created is immediately ejected, filling the experimental chamber. The advantage of helicons over inductively coupled plasmas (with no B-field) increases with RF power. At high B-fields, edge ionization by the Trivelpiece-Gould mode can be seen. These results are useful for design of multiple-tube, large-area helicon sources for plasma etching and deposition because problems are encountered which cannot be foreseen by theory alone.« less
  • A current-free electric double layer is created in a helicon double layer thruster operating with xenon and compared to a recently developed theory. The Xe{sup +} ion beam formed by acceleration through the potential drop of the double layer is characterized radially using an electrostatic ion energy analyzer. For operating conditions of 500 W rf power, 0.07 mTorr gas pressure, and a maximum magnetic field of 125 G, the measured beam velocity is about 6 km s{sup -1}, the beam area is about 150 cm{sup 2}, and the measured beam divergence is less than 6 deg.