Development of an Annular Helicon Source for Electric Propulsion Applications
ELECTRODYNAMIC APPLICATIONS INC ANN ARBOR MI
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The performance of typical electrostatic propulsion systems, such as the Hall thruster, is limited in part by inefficiencies in the electron bombardment ionization process. These limitations become especially pronounced at the operating conditions required to achieve high thrust-to-power ratios. One approach for achieving significant increases in efficiency at such operating conditions is to replace the typically-employed DC ionization mechanism with a helicon source, which is widely regarded as an efficient method for creating a high-density, low-temperature plasma. Standard cylindrical helicons, however, are not amenable to straightforward integration with annular Hall thrusters. A rigorous mathematical treatment of helicon wave physics has been completed to establish the boundary conditions required to create an annular helicon source for both the m0 and m1 azimuthal modes. This analysis reveals no fundamental barriers to creation of an annular helicon source so long as the radial boundary conditions are set appropriately.
- Plasma Physics and Magnetohydrodynamics
- Electric and Ion Propulsion