Method for Controlling of Spatial and Temporal Variations of Plasma Properties in Plasma Devices With Crossed Electric and Magnetic Fields

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Method for Controlling the Spatial and Temporal Variations of Plasma Properties in Plasma Devices with Crossed Electric and Magnetic Fields

Princeton Docket # 14-2954

Researchers in the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory at Princeton University have proposed  a new method of crafting spatial variations of the electron cross-field transport to control macroscopic plasma properties, including the electron field, electron temperature and plasma density, and their spatial distributions in relevant E cross B plasma devices such as Hall and helicon plasma thrusters, and plasma-beam devices for material processing.

This method involves the formation and control of localized plasma structures, which can conduct a significant fraction of the electron current across the magnetic field. For example, by preventing current-conducting plasma structures from occurring in the plasma regions, where the electron-cross field transport needs to be minimized, but forming artificial or enhancing naturally occurring current conducting structures in the other plasma regions, the local maximum of the applied electric field can be established in the former region. By controlling spatial variations of macroscopic plasma properties in E cross B plasma discharge, it is anticipated that the focusing of the plasma flow will improve. As a result, the performance and lifetime of plasma thrusters such as Hall thrusters will be improved. Moreover, it is anticipated that the use of the coherent plasma structures as the main current conducting mechanism in the cross-field plasma devices such as Hall thrusters can substantially reduce the frequency of discharge current oscillations. This will improve the electromagnetic compatibility of these devices with other high frequency hardware and utilities, such as satellite communications.

Finally, for material processing applications of this invention, it is anticipated that the control of macroscopic properties will enable the control of plasma particles and energy flux to the substrate. Such control can be particularly important for material processing in the nanoscale range using plasma-beam systems with applied electric and magnetic fields.


·         Space plasma propulsion for improved performance and compatibility of thrusters with satellites


·         Plasma-based material processing for controlled uniformity


·         Better focusing of the plasma flow

·         Better controllability of the plasma flow

·         Better compatibility of magnetized plasma thrusters with satellites

·         Improved performance of plasma thrusters such as Hall thrusters

Faculty Inventors


Yevgeny Raitses is Principal Research Physicist at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).  Dr. Raitses is an expert in experimental plasma physics and plasma diagnostics, and plasma applications.  He received his PhD from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in 1997. Since 1998, he has led the PPPL research programs on plasma thrusters and plasma-based synthesis of nanomaterials.  He holds US patents on Cylindrical Hall Thruster and Segmented Hall Thruster. Dr. Raitses is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He serves also as a Senior Editor of IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science.

Alexander Merzhevskiy is an RF and Electronic Engineer at the PPPL Hall Thruster Experiment (HTX). He received his MS in 1981 from Saint Petersburg Academy of Aerospace Sciences. Mr. Merzhevskiy is responsible for development and manufacturing of the electronic components on the HTX.


Intellectual Property Status

Patent protection is pending.

Princeton is seeking to identify appropriate partners for the further development and commercialization of this technology.



John Ritter
Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing • (609) 258-1570•

Laurie Bagley
Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing • (609) 258-5579•




Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Michael Tyerech
former Princeton Sr. Licensing Associate
Princeton University
Yevgeny Raitses
Alexsandr Merzhevskiy
plasma physics