A pulsed axial magnetic field up to ∼2.8 kG is applied to a 26-mm-inner-diameter helicon plasma thruster immersed in a vacuum chamber, and the thrust is measured using a pendulum target. The pendulum is located 30-cm-downstream of the thruster, and the thruster rf power and argon flow rate are fixed at 1 kW and 70 sccm (which gives a chamber pressure of 0.7 mTorr). The imparted thrust increases as the applied magnetic field is increased and saturates at a maximum value of ∼9.5 mN for magnetic field above ∼2 kG. At the maximum magnetic field, it is demonstrated that the normalized plasma density, and the ion flow energy in the magnetic nozzle, agree within ∼50% and of 10%, respectively, with a one-dimensional model that ignores radial losses from the nozzle. This magnetic nozzle model is combined with a simple global model of the thruster source that incorporates an artificially controlled factor α, to account for radial plasma losses to the walls, where α = 0 and 1 correspond to zero losses and no magnetic field, respectively. Comparison between the experiments and the model implies that the radial losses in the thruster source are experimentally reduced by the applied magnetic field to about 10% of that obtained from the no magnetic field model.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Condensed Matter Physics