The Use of Boron Nitride for Improved Cold-Cathode Electron Field Emission Technology

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Air Force
Contract: FA9550-04-C-0061
Agency Tracking Number: F033-0354
Amount: $749,929.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Awards Year: 2004
Solicitation Year: 2003
Solicitation Topic Code: AF03T016
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
P.O. Box 131460, Ann Arbor, MI, 48113
DUNS: 610511334
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: Y
Principal Investigator
 Jonathan Van Noord
 Senior Engineer
 (734) 930-6692
Business Contact
 Brian Gilchrist
Title: President/Treasurer
Phone: (734) 930-6692
Research Institution
 University of Michigan
 Tom Zdeba
 Div of Research Devel & Admin, Room 1058; 3003 So.
Ann Arbor, MI, 48109
 (734) 764-8510
 Nonprofit college or university
Low-power Hall thrusters offer potentially important advantages for certain military applications but issues of lifetime and efficiency degradation at lower powers are issues hindering its utilization. A factor impacting efficiency is that the state-of-the-art techniques for electron generation used for neutralization (such as hollow cathodes operating on the same propellant as the thruster) do not scale down in mass, power, and propellant consumption as readily as the miniaturized thrusters themselves. This proposal out-lines the development of a field emitter cathode utilizing the chemically inert, tough, low work-function ma-terial Boron Nitride (BN) and corresponding testing of a low power Hall thruster to better understand cath-ode integration. The desirable characteristics of leading electron emission materials such as molybdenum tips and Carbon Nanotubes (CNT) are well known. However, the chemical reactivity of these materials, especially carbon, in oxidizing environments presents significant limitations with respect to their applica-tion in Hall thrusters and other propulsion technologies (both operational and handling factors). The propel-lantless nature of this approach eliminates the neutralizer as a degrading factor for efficiency and its supe-rior material properties offer the possibility of long lifetime operation.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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