Micropropulsion devices based on molecular acceleration by pulsed optical lattices

Mikhail N. Shneider, Sergey F. Gimelshein, Peter F. Barker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The ability of a traveling periodic optical potential to increase the thrust and specific impulse of microthrusters is investigated. Two flow regimes, high density and low density, are considered. The thrust from a micronozzle, with a stagnation pressure of 1 atm and temperature of 300 K, can be increased by more than an order of magnitude. These conditions can be achieved for a constant velocity lattice, produced by two near counterpropagating optical fields that are focused into the nozzle throat. A propulsion system that operates in low-density regime and is driven by molecules trapped by an accelerating optical lattice is proposed. It is shown that such a system has a potential to achieve a specific impulse of thousands of seconds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number063102
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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