Measurement of xenon plasma properties in an ion thruster using laser Thomson scattering technique

N. Yamamoto, K. Tomita, K. Sugita, T. Kurita, H. Nakashima, K. Uchino

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This paper reports on the development of a method for measuring xenon plasma properties using the laser Thomson scattering technique, for application to ion engine system design. The thresholds of photo-ionization of xenon plasma were investigated and the number density of metastable atoms, which are photo-ionized by a probe laser, was measured using laser absorption spectroscopy, for several conditions. The measured threshold energy of the probe laser using a plano-convex lens with a focal length of 200 mm was 150 mJ for a xenon mass flow rate of 20 μgs and incident microwave power of 6 W; the probe laser energy was therefore set as 80 mJ. Electron number density was found to be (6.2 ± 0.4) × 10 17 m -3 and electron temperature was found to be 2.2 ± 0.4 eV at a xenon mass flow rate of 20 μgs and incident microwave power of 6 W. The threshold of the probe laser intensity against photo-ionization in a miniature xenon ion thruster is almost constant for various mass flow rates, since the ratio of population of the metastable atoms to the electron number density is little changed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number073106
JournalReview of Scientific Instruments
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2012


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Instrumentation

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