Fundamentals of PPT discharge initiation: Undervoltage breakdown through electron pulse injection

James E. Cooley, Edgar Yazid Choueiri

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

In order to understand the fundamentals behind pulsed plasma thruster discharge initiation, the phenomenon of undervoltage (i.e. at a voltage slightly below the breakdown voltage) breakdown through electron pulse injection is explored. This phenomenon is not only the mechanism employed by sparkplug-based PPT initiation systems, but is also the basis for a new optical initiation system which promises improved performance and lifetime. A theoretical model is derived which predicts the injected electron density required to induce breakdown. These results are compared to experimental measurements in which laser pulses on a tungsten surface are used to cause electrons to be injected into a discharge gap with a parallel-plate geometry. It is found that for argon at 2 Torr, the theory and experiment both give the required current density on the order of 10-7-10-8 A/m2 at voltages ranging from 90% to 99% of the breakdown voltage. The similarity suggests that the theoretical interpretation is reasonable: the pulse of electrons alters the space charge in the gap and augments the electric field, making ionization more likely and causing the gas to breakdown.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication39th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit
StatePublished - Dec 1 2003
Event39th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit 2003 - Huntsville, AL, United States
Duration: Jul 20 2003Jul 23 2003

Publication series

Name39th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit

Other

Other39th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit 2003
CountryUnited States
CityHuntsville, AL
Period7/20/037/23/03

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Fundamentals of PPT discharge initiation: Undervoltage breakdown through electron pulse injection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this