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Laser Diagnostics for Hall Thruster Erosion
Brian Lee
Colorado State University


Brian Lee
The goal of BrianĂ­s research is to develop a new paradigm for measuring the sputter erosion rate of Hall thrusters in (near) real-time and in situ. To this end, Brian is developing laser sensors based on the ultra-sensitive cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS) technique and is using these sensors to measure sputter products in the plume of the operating thruster. As part of this fellowship Brian will work with Hall thruster researchers at NASA Glenn Research Center with the overarching goal of transferring the diagnostics capability from his university laboratory to NASA.

In comparison to the currently used full life testing approach, the use of the CRDS sensor will have several advantages:
  1. thruster erosion can be measured in situ with high sensitivity readily allowing one to study changes in erosion rate with time and with thruster operating conditions;
  2. the sensor can be used relatively quickly and inexpensively;
  3. the sensor data provides number density and velocity information on the sputtered particles enabling comparisons against numerical models (and model validation).