Finite element analysis of particle ionization within carbon nanotube ion micro thruster
Fiebrandt, Jamison R.
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As electric propulsion becomes more of a viable option for satellite station keeping, MEMS electrodes are being more thoroughly investigated for their operational capacity. Computer modelling simulations of the particle physics involved during the initial ionization events of plasma generation have proven reliable in determining the effectiveness of carbon nanotube-covered nozzles. Two different simulations, comparing angled-wall etched nozzles with and without CNT deposition, demonstrated improvement of ion beam current when the walls are lined with carbon nanotubes. These models agree well with experimental results in the initial ionization event regime. Further investigation of complete plasma physics simulation and ionization parameter characterization are required to refine the simulation before it is a complete, viable system for thruster design optimization.
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