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Sputtering phenomena in ion thrustersSputtering effects in discharge chambers of ion thrusters are lifetime limiting in basically two ways: (1) ion bombardment of critical thruster components at energies sufficient to cause sputtering removes significant quantities of material; enough to degrade operation through adverse dimensional changes or possibly lead to complete component failure, and (2) metals sputtered from these intensely bombarded components are deposited in other locations as thin films and subsequently flake or peel off; the flakes then lodge elsewhere in the discharge chamber with the possibility of providing conductive paths for short circuiting of thruster components such as the ion optics. This experimental work has concentrated in two areas. The first has been to operate thrusters for multi-hour periods and to observe and measure the films found inside the thruster. The second was to simulate the environment inside the discharge chamber of the thruster by means of a dual ion beam system. Here, films were sputter deposited in the presence of a second low energy bombarding beam to simulate film deposition on thruster interior surfaces that undergo simultaneous sputtering and deposition. Mo presents serious problems for use in a thruster as far as film deposition is concerned. Mo films were found to be in high stress, making them more likely to peel and flake.
Document ID
Document Type
Contractor Report (CR)
Robinson, R. S.
(Colorado State Univ. Fort Collins, CO, United States)
Rossnagel, S. M.
(Colorado State Univ. Fort Collins, CO, United States)
Date Acquired
September 4, 2013
Publication Date
February 1, 1983
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.26:168172
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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