Re-generable Field Emission Cathodes

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNX13CC61P
Agency Tracking Number: 125290
Amount: $124,752.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2013
Solicitation Year: 2012
Solicitation Topic Code: S3.03
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
Aerophysics, Inc.
MI, Allouez, MI, 49805-6969
DUNS: 003583429
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Jason Makela
 Chief Engineer
 (906) 487-1854
 jmakela@aerophysicsinc.com
Business Contact
 Lyon King
Title: President
Phone: (906) 370-2376
Email: brad.king@aerophysicsinc.com
Research Institution
 Stub
Abstract
A significant challenge in scaling micro-propulsion devices up to 100s of Watts as well as scaling macro devices down to sub-kiloWatt level is the lack of a compatible neutralizer technology in the meso scale. Sub-kiloWatt EP systems require cathode technology that can produce sufficient current while consuming little or no gas or power. The most promising technology for meso-scale neutralizers is field emission. In field emission, electrons are extracted directly from a cold bulk solid material by an intense applied electric field at the solid-vacuum interface with no gas flow and no heating required. While many methods have been proposed to incorporate field-emission neutralizers in EP systems, the inherent fragility of the technology?specifically the reliance on solid structures with nanometer-radius tips?ensures that device failure due to tip degradation will be a near certainty for any application depending on field emission cathodes. The goal of research proposed here is to develop arrays of field-emission neutralizers for use in sub-1-kW EP that eliminate tip degradation not through attempts to minimize tip wear, but instead by incorporating self-assembling nanostructures that can repeatedly re-generate damaged emitter tips in space and fully restore the functionality of a damaged or degraded device.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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