An important task in the development of electric propulsion devices is ground-based testing. In order to characterize electric thrusters, their generated ion beams are regarded as figures of merit and have to be well-known and understood. We present an approach to measure DC ion beam currents generated by electric thrusters by means of an inductive direct-current current transformer. In contrast to commonly used devices like Faraday cups, this device can measure the beam current non-intrusively by means of magnetic field coupling rather than charge collection. This paper shows the development of a prototype sensor which can measure currents in the typical range for electric thrusters with high resolution and satisfactory accuracy. A detailed SPICE model to assist during hardware development is also introduced and verified by test case measurements. The prototype has been tested and validated with a radio-frequency ion thruster. Its readout shows very good agreement with the output of an analytical model which computes a Gaussian-shaped ion beam in the far-field based on experimental input data.
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Research Article| March 12 2019
Direct-current current transformer for the measurement of an electric propulsion ion beam
C. Volkmar ;
C. Volkmar, C. Geile, A. Neumann, K. Hannemann; Direct-current current transformer for the measurement of an electric propulsion ion beam. Rev. Sci. Instrum. 1 March 2019; 90 (3): 033303. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5087804
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