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Title:Formation and extraction of a dense plasma jet from a helicon-plasma-injected inertial electrostatic confinement device
Author(s):Ulmen, Benjamin
Director of Research:Miley, George H.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Miley, George H.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Eden, James G.; Ruzic, David N.; Stubbins, James F.; Marsh, Charles P.
Department / Program:Nuclear, Plasma, & Rad Engr
Discipline:Nuclear Engineering
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC)
Gridded Energy Analyzer
Piezoelectric Force Sensor
Faraday Cup
COMSOL Modeling
Abstract:An inertial electrostatic confinement (IEC) device has several pressure and grid-geometry dependent modes of operation for the confinement of plasma. Although the symmetric grid star-mode is the most often studied for its application to fusion, the asymmetric grid jet-mode has its own potential application for electric space propulsion. The jet-mode gets its name from the characteristic bright plasma jet emanating from the central grid. In this dissertation work, a full study was undertaken to provide an understanding on the formation and propagation of the IEC plasma jet-mode. The IEC device vacuum system and all diagnostics were custom assembled during this work. Four diagnostics were used to measure different aspects of the jet. A spherical plasma probe was used to explore the coupling of an external helicon plasma source to the IEC device. The plasma current in the jet was measured by a combination of a Faraday cup and a gridded energy analyzer (GEA). The Faraday cup also included a temperature sensor for collection of thermal power measurements used to compute the efficiency of the IEC device in coupling power into the jet. The GEA allowed for measurement of the electron energy spectra. The force provided by the plasma jet was measured using a piezoelectric force sensor. Each of these measurements provided an important window into the nature of the plasma jet. COMSOL simulations provided additional evidence needed to create a model to explain the formation of the jet. It will be shown that the jet consists of a high energy electron beam having a peak energy of approximately half of the full grid potential. It is born near the aperture of the grid as a result of the escaping core electrons. Several other attributes of the plasma jet will be presented as well as a way forward to utilizing this device and operational mode for future plasma space propulsion.
Issue Date:2014-01-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Benjamin A Ulmen
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-01-16
Date Deposited:2013-12

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