The AIS-GDN1 Low Power Micro Glow Discharge Hollow Cathode Neutralizer is the first hollow cathode neutralizer of the AIS-ADAMANT Series, representing the extreme of hollow cathode neutralizer power and size scaling. The neutralizer is being developed to directly support the AIS-EHT1 Micro End Hall Thruster and other thrusters in development in the new AIS-ADAMANT Series.
Unlike traditional neutralizers, which either use heater inserts that require high power levels, or RF excitation which requires complex RF drives to generate the plasma used for electron extraction for ignition and neutralization of Hall thrusters, the GDN1 relies on a simple DC glow discharge hollow-cathode source, allowing for incredibly simple and low-power electronics, requiring only a few watts to operate.
The ultra-modular design of the GDN1 allows for direct mounting to AIS-ADAMANT Series thrusters, like the AIS-EHT1, which is directly integrated to the thruster mounting and fuel adapter plate. This allows the GDN1 to be directly fed sublimated Adamantane fuel from the same source as the thruster, eliminating valving and pressurization in the system. The neutralizer is sized for glow-discharge operation at the same standard pressure levels of typical hollow cathode neutralizers, allowing the GDN1 to also be adapted to conventional systems based on customer requirements.
At a size of only 20mm x 20mm x 24mm and a power level of only a few watts, the GDN1 provides the ultimate solution for low-power micro neutralizers for low-output Hall and gridded ion thrusters, opening up the possibilities of advanced plasma and ion propulsion for even small Cubesats.
UPDATE: As of 10/25/2022, the GDN1 has been retired from development.
- System Type: Low Power Micro Glow Discharge Hollow Cathode
- Fuel: Adamantane
- Power: 2W
- Lifetime: TDB
- Mass: 12 grams
- Size: 20mm x 20mm x 24mm
- Compatible Thrusters: AIS-EHT1
- Test Readiness Level (TRL): 6
- Status: RETIRED
ENGINEERING TEST REPORTS
VACUUM TEST PLATFORM
- 01/08/2021 – First conceptual CAD models of the AIS-GDN1 revealed
- 01/17/2021 – Third successful glow discharge testing in vacuum with sublimated Adamantane fuel with glow discharge test cell looking at e-beam extraction for preliminary neutralizer testing
- 01/28/2021 – 3D printed housing for the GDN1 arrived from Xometry
- 02/05/2021 – Preliminary assembly of GDN1 complete
- 02/09/2021 – Final assembly of GDN1 complete
- 02/20/2021 – First ignition test of the GDN1 was conducted live. GDN1 was successfully operated with output plume at only a bit more than 2W cathode power on purely sublimated Adamantane fuel.
- 03/20/2021 – First full system ignition test of the EHT1 using the GDN1 neutralizer and full power supplies. Plasma bridging was established between anode and cathode, though full ignition not achieved.
- 03/27/2021 – Second full system ignition test of the EHT1 using the GDN1 neutralizer and full power supplies. More stable and intense plasma bridging was established between anode and cathode from the prior test, though full ignition could not be verified due to excess background plasma in the chamber.
- 04/03/2021 – Third full system ignition test of the EHT1 using the GDN1 neutralizer and full power supplies. Successful ignition was finally verified, with the system running at a total power level of 26.5W.
- 10/25/2022 – The GDN1 has been officially retired from development