Cross-field electron transport induced by a rotating spoke in a cylindrical Hall thruster

C. L. Ellison, Y. Raitses, N. J. Fisch

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135 Scopus citations


Rotating spoke phenomena have been observed in a variety of Hall thruster and other E × B devices. It has been suggested that the spoke may be associated with the enhancement of the electron cross-field transport. In this paper, the current conducted across the magnetic field via a rotating spoke has been directly measured for the first time in the E × B discharge of a cylindrical Hall thruster. The spoke current was measured using a segmented anode. Synchronized measurements with a high speed camera and a four-segment anode allow observation of the current as a function of time and azimuthal position. Upwards of 50 of the total current is conducted through the spoke, which occupies a quarter of the Hall thruster channel area. To determine the transport mechanism, emissive and Langmuir probes were installed to measure fluctuating plasma potential, electron density, and temperature. A perturbed, azimuthal electric field and density are observed to oscillate in-phase with the rotating spoke. The resulting drift current is found to enhance electron transport with a magnitude equal to the spoke current to within margins of error.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number013503
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics


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