Dec 18

Microwave neutralizer development for the X-EPT ECR microwave gridded ion thruster

Sam Reeve, Dr Angelo Grubisic, Joseph Edwards, Peter Turner, Richard Jones, Marcus Collier-Wright, Alessandro Arno, Wojciech Zakrzewski, Maite Sevilla, Paul Aimone and Francois Dary

Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics


Scopus rating (2019): CiteScore 5.3 SJR 0.899 SNIP 1.144


This paper presents the development and testing of a microwave neutralizer intended for the first ever dual-stage electron cyclotron resonance microwave gridded ion thruster. The neutralizer is fabricated from metal 3D printing and is driven via a common 2.45 GHz solid state microwave supply with the ion thruster, providing an electron source for beam neutralization. The thruster operates between 1-3 kW delivering 18-165 mN between 3000-5000 s specific impulse in dual-modes. A self-igniting plasma was achieved at 30 W forward microwave power and 2 SCCM Argon flow rate, while a maximum current of 86 mA was drawn to an external anode in a diode configuration. While extracted electron currents do not yet meet the beam current requirements for the gridded ion thruster, various developments are presented as a means to increase the extracted current in future design iterations.