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Title: Acceleration and focusing of plasma flows
Authors: Griswold, Martin Elias
Advisors: Raitses, Yevgeny
Fisch, Nathaniel J
Contributors: Plasma Physics Department
Subjects: Plasma physics
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The acceleration of flowing plasmas is a fundamental problem that is useful in a wide variety of technological applications. We consider the problem from the perspective of plasma propulsion. Gridded ion thrusters and Hall thrusters are the most commonly used devices to create flowing plasma for space propulsion, but both suffer from fundamental limitations. Gridded ion sources create good quality beams in terms of energy spread and spatial divergence, but the Child-Langmuir law in the non-neutral acceleration region limits the maximum achievable current density. Hall thrusters avoid this limitation by accelerating ions in quasi-neutral plasma but, as a result, produce plumes with high spatial divergence and large energy spread. In addition the more complicated magnetized plasma in the Hall Thruster produces oscillations that can reduce the efficiency of the thruster by increasing electron transport to the anode. We present investigations of three techniques to address the fundamental limitations on the performance of each thruster. First, we propose a method to increase the time-averaged current density (and thus thrust density) produced by a gridded ion source above the Child-Langmuir limit by introducing time-varying boundary conditions. Next, we use an electrostatic plasma lens to focus the Hall thruster plume, and finally we develop a technique to suppress a prominent oscillation that degrades the performance of Hall thrusters. The technique to loosen the constraints on current density from gridded ion thrusters actually applies much more broadly to any space charge limited flow. We investigate the technique with a numerical simulation and by proving a theoretical upper bound. While we ultimately conclude that the approach is not suitable for space propulsion, our results proved useful in another area, providing a benchmark for research into the spontaneously time-dependent current that arises in microdiodes. Next, we experimentally demonstrate a novel approach to reducing plume divergence by using a PL located in the plume of the thruster to focus ions after they were ionized and accelerated. Finally we further improve thruster operation by suppressing a prominent low frequency oscillation in the thruster known as the rotating spoke. The suppression leads to decreased electron transport and more control over the operating conditions in the thruster.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Plasma Physics

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