CATHODESMany electric thrusters (like ion and Hall Effect thrusters) require an external electron source (or cathode). Busek is a leader in the development of rugged cathodes to serve as plasma sources in the lab or as part of a flight electric propulsion system. HOLLOW CATHODESOur family of barium-impregnated cathodes features extensive NASA heritage. The mechanical design builds off our BHC-1500 cathode successfully operated on the Operationally Responsive Space satellite TacSat-2 and the USAFA’s FalconSat-5. Both externally-mounted and center-mounted versions of these cathodes are available. The images below show a summary of BHC style cathodes Busek has designed, manufactured and extensively tested. Busek has also developed a number of lanthanum hexaboride emitter cathodes for use with xenon, iodine, and other propellants. These cathodes share many design features with our barium impregnated cathodes.
PROPELLANT-LESS CARBON NANOTUBE FIELD EMISSION CATHODESBusek’s Field Emission Cathodes use in-house synthesized multi-wall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) as field emission sites. Field emission cathodes applied to electric propulsion (EP) as neutralizers have one significant advantage over hollow cathodes: they do not consume propellant. Hence they are ideal for low power, low beam current EP such as colloid or FEEP thrusters, as well as space tether applications. Busek has developed the CNT field emission cathode as a neutralizer for colloid thrusters that will provide propulsion on the JPL, Space Technology 7, Disturbance Reduction System mission. In addition to space, our rugged CNT cathodes have multiple terrestrial applications. They have an integrated extraction grid, forming a complete triode for applications in various vacuum electronics devices.