An instrument to measure the momentum flux (total pressure) of plasma and neutral particle jets onto a surface has been developed. While this instrument was developed for magnetized plasmas, the concept works for nonmagnetized plasmas as well. We have measured forces as small as 10−4 N on a surface immersed in the plasma where small forces are due to ionic and neutral particles with kinetic energies on the order of a few eV impacting the surface. This instrument, a force sensor, uses a target plate (surface) that is immersed in the plasma and connected to one end of an alumina rod while the opposite end of the alumina rod is mechanically connected to a titanium beam on which four strain gauges are mounted. The force on the target generates torque, causing strain in the beam. The resulting strain measurements can be correlated to a force on the target plate. The alumina rod electrically and thermally isolates the target plate from the strain gauge beam and allows the strain gauges to be located out of the plasma flow while also serving as a moment arm of several inches to increase the strain in the beam at the strain gauge location. These force measurements correspond directly to momentum flux and may be used with known plasma conditions to place boundaries on the kinetic energies of the plasma and neutral particles. The force measurements may also be used to infer thrust produced by a plasma propulsive device. Stainless steel, titanium, molybdenum, and aluminum flat target plates have been used. Momentum flux measurements of H2, D2, He, and Ar plasmas produced in a magnetized plasma device have been performed.

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