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Micropropulsion devices based on molecular acceleration by pulsed optical lattices

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3 Author(s)
Shneider, M.N. ; Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544 ; Gimelshein, Sergey F. ; Barker, Peter F.

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The ability of a traveling periodic optical potential to increase the thrust and specific impulse of microthrusters is investigated. Two flow regimes, high density and low density, are considered. The thrust from a micronozzle, with a stagnation pressure of 1 atm and temperature of 300 K, can be increased by more than an order of magnitude. These conditions can be achieved for a constant velocity lattice, produced by two near counterpropagating optical fields that are focused into the nozzle throat. A propulsion system that operates in low-density regime and is driven by molecules trapped by an accelerating optical lattice is proposed. It is shown that such a system has a potential to achieve a specific impulse of thousands of seconds.

Published in:

Journal of Applied Physics  (Volume:99 ,  Issue: 6 )