Micro-cavity discharge thruster (MCDT)

Rodney L Burton (Inventor), James Gary Eden (Inventor), Sung-Jin Park (Inventor), David L Carroll (Inventor)

Research output: Patent


It is disclosed herein a breakthrough concept for in-space propulsion for future Air Force, NASA and commercial systems. The invention combines the fields of micro-electrical-mechanical (MEMs) devices, optical physics, and nonequilibrium plasmadynamics to reduce dramatically the size of electric thrusters by 1-2 orders of magnitude, which when coupled with electrodeless operation and high thruster efficiency, will enable scalable, low-cost, long-life distributable propulsion for control of microsats, nanosats, and space structures. The concept is scalable from power levels of 1 W to tens of kilowatts with thrust efficiency exceeding 60%. Ultimate specific impulse would be 500 seconds with helium, with lower values for heavier gases.
Original languageEnglish (US)
U.S. patent number8689537
StatePublished - Apr 8 2014


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