CATHODES Many 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 CATHODES Our 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 CATHODES Busek’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.
CATHODE DESIGNATION
EMITTER DIAMETER
BHC-1500
Porous tungsten 6:1 BaO/CaO/Al2O
3.2 mm
0 - 3 A
BHC-2500
6.4 mm
0 - 15 A
BHC-5000
12.7 mm
0 - 100 A
BHC-10000
25.4 mm
0 - 200 A
EMITTER TYPE
EMISSION CURRENT
Porous tungsten 6:1 BaO/CaO/Al2O
Porous tungsten 6:1 BaO/CaO/Al2O
Porous tungsten 6:1 BaO/CaO/Al2O
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DATASHEETS
STANDARD 0.5 INCH FEC
TO5 PACKAGE FEC
CURRENT
LIFETIME  (HOURS)
0.1 mA
13,236
1 mA
6,433
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