Re-generable Field Emission Cathodes

Award Information
Agency:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch
n/a
Amount:
$124,752.00
Award Year:
2013
Program:
SBIR
Phase:
Phase I
Contract:
NNX13CC61P
Agency Tracking Number:
125290
Solicitation Year:
2012
Solicitation Topic Code:
S3.03
Solicitation Number:
n/a
Small Business Information
Aerophysics, Inc.
MI, Allouez, MI, 49805-6969
Hubzone Owned:
N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
N
Woman Owned:
N
Duns:
003583429
Principal Investigator:
Jason Makela
Chief Engineer
(906) 487-1854
jmakela@aerophysicsinc.com
Business Contact:
Lyon King
President
(906) 370-2376
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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