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PhD in Electrospray Propulsion Development at University of Glasgow

The rapid increase in market share for SmallSats and the future deployment of large constellations have increased demand for propulsive systems capable of providing thrust at both high propellant efficiency (SI) and total efficiency at low power operating conditions. The current state-of-art electric propulsion adopted for medium to large-sized space platforms can provide impressive system performance. However, this performance is always associated with both significant volume, high costs and limited capabilities of being scaled down in size, while retaining system performance.

Electrospray is an excellent method to atomise dielectric liquids into a beam of charged particles that can be accelerated up to tens of Km/s. A single electrospray source delivers thrust at high SI and efficiency at a naturally low power and thrust levels -in the micro-Newton and milli-Watt range. Unfortunately, these levels are insufficient for the current needs of the SmallSats market; ideally, the thrust output of a propulsive system should increase at least a hundred-fold for a total power consumption of few Watts. Therefore, the natural solution to increase the total thrust is multiplying the number of electrospray sources operating at the same time. The small cross-section of a single source and the use of microfabrication techniques allow this feat without increasing the volume of the whole system.

This project strives to design and develop a fully integrated and scalable Electrospray Propulsion System using the microfabrication capabilities of the state-of-the-art facilities of the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre. The department also has access to the ESA-ESTEC National Testing to test the performance of the devices.

The ideal PhD candidate has a degree in either aerospace, nanoscale or electronic engineering (Enginyeria industrial o de telecomunicacions també són vàlides), microelectronics or applied physics and an excellent track record. 

Funding and application

For funding opportunities and the application consult: https://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/engineering/phdopportunities/

Contact

For an informal discussion or further information on this project, please contact: enric.grustangutierrez@glasgow.ac.uk

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