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Fail-safe Cold Cathode Ionizer
Phone: (978) 738-8265
Phone: (978) 738-8107
In response to NASArsquo;s call for development of enabling technologies for space exploration instrumentation such as mass spectrometers, Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) is developing a novel cold cathode ionizer. The ionizer, which is being optimized for application to Heliophysics mass spectroscopy in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) combines exceptionally low power consumption, high output current densities, high reliability and an extremely compact form factor. PSIrsquo;s cold cathode ionizer is also uniquely resistant to degradation by the hyperthermal atomic oxygen present in LEO. The properties render PSIrsquo;s cold cathode technology uniquely suited to use near Earth, particularly those flown on cubesats and similar small spacecraft platforms.nbsp;In Phase I of the development program, PSI successfully demonstrated the operating principle behind the cold cathode electron gun, yielding stable emission current densities over 60 mA/cm2 in a breadboard device. In Phase II, PSI will optimize the field emission technology while shrinking and ruggedizing the devices. The Phase II program will culminate in delivery of a flight-capable cold cathode ionizer to NASA meeting or exceeding every key performance parameter required for integration into cubesat-based mass spectrometers for Heliophysics applications.
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