Experimental Verification of BP-HiPIMS Thrusters
Masters Thesis Presentation
Time: Tue 2020-08-25 15.15
Lecturer: David Mainwaring
The ion acceleration process in Bipolar High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering is investigated for use in a novel space propulsion system - the BP-HiPIMS thruster. The interest for BP-HiPIMS has recently been growing within the area of thin film deposition due to the theorised acceleration of target ions caused by the reversed pulse following the regular HiPIMS pulse. This same acceleration could be used to produce thrust in a space propulsion system, where the lack of physical grids and temporal separation of ionisation and acceleration are attractive benefits of the suggested system. In this paper the physical processes and parameters of importance are experimentally investigated to gain understanding of the ion acceleration process with the goal of verifying the theory of BP-HiPIMS thusters. Through plasma potential measurements a beneficial potential structure between the magnetic trap and bulk of the plasma which could potentially accelerate ions is found at certain discharge conditions and some acceleration of ions is confirmed in mass spectrometer measurements. The results are promising for a thruster application but further research is needed to evaluate the viability of the proposed system.