Laser discharge initiation for gas-fed pulsed plasma thrusters

J. W. Berkerytand, E. Y. Choueiri

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


A method of discharge initiation at an undervoltage by a laser-induced pulse of electrons from a photocathode is presented. The intended application is to produce spatially uniform current sheet initiation in gas-fed pulsed plasma thrusters. The effect is explained by a space charge buildup which can increase the electric field of the gap. A theoretical model was developed and showed that an increase of the charge multiplication coefficient to a level above unity will produce a current rise to breakdown. Attempts to use an ultraviolet light pulse to create a photocurrent spike were unsuccessful probably due to inadequate surface preparation of the photocathode. Infared laser pulses, however, did lead to current production which lead to breakdown from a 15% undervoltage in argon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2001
Event37th Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit 2001 - Salt Lake City, UT, United States
Duration: Jul 8 2001Jul 11 2001


Other37th Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit 2001
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySalt Lake City, UT

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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