PERL has a number of active research project. Dr. Xu performed his seminal work in ion focusing and magnetic field design of Hall effect thrusters. His current research involves both experimental and theoretical efforts in a range of plasma applications.


Current projects

Atmospheric-Pressure Micro Plasma (AMP) for Nanomaterial Generation

AMP TC 75W copy    AMP deposites 2    spherical cu particle graphite pin on copper 20160519

This project seeks to understand the behavior of microplasmas at atmospheric pressures. Due to the greatly increased pressure and thus particle density compared to more conventional vacuum plasmas, some of the basic interactions changes. One example is the plasma is very collisional now. We seek to use these microplasmas for the synthesis of nanomaterials and understand the physics that control the material formation.


Electric Field Modified Combustion

  Concentric burner  Ion current contours

bunsen flame 0 kvbunsen flame 9.1 kv

This work is part of the field called Plasma Assisted Combustion (PAC) where plasma is used to modified by the combustion process and the flame behavior. Some of the effects include increase flame speed, increase flame height, reduced turbulence, and ultra lean combustion. In this project, we are investigating the effect of an external DC electric field on the flame properties and the plasma properties.


Printed Microstrip Microplasma Generator for Space Micro Propulsion 

   SRR on argon  3MT in vacuum chamber  3MT ignition

This project looks to develop a new micro propulsion system for spacecrafts, especially small satellites like Cubesats. The thruster uses a microstrip resonator to generate a plasma, a method not yet seen in propulsion. The thruster promises low power, low mass, and low cost, all of which make it very attractive for the small satellite market.


Additive Manufactured Miniature Hall Thruster

imgp5549    imgp5550

This project seeks to design, built, and test a 3D printed miniature Hall thruster with a CubeSat foot print. The use of 3D printing allows more complex structures to be built, allow propellant and cooling channels to be printed directly into the thruster, and can reduce material and mass with lattice structures. Our initial prototype is build from ABS plastic using a commerical desktop 3D printer at the lab. In total there are 10 major parts of the thruster as the main body, discharge channel, and propellant distributor are build as a single piece, greatly simplifying fabrication and assembly.