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Study Models New Method to Accelerate Nanoparticles

29 Aug 2019, 09:11 UTC
Study Models New Method to Accelerate Nanoparticles
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In a new study, researchers at the University of Illinois and the Missouri University of Science and Technology modeled a method to manipulate nanoparticles as an alternative mode of propulsion for tiny spacecraft that require very small levels of thrust.The team simulated a system that uses light to generate an electromagnetic field. Neutral nanoparticles made from glass or some other material that insulates rather than conducts electric charges are used. The nanoparticles become polarized. All of the positive charges are displaced in the direction of the field and negative charges shift in the opposite direction. It creates an internal electric field that produces a force to move the particles from a reservoir, funneled through an injector, then shot out of an accelerator to produce thrust.The study, that has been about eight years in the making, analytically showed that the technique can work, and suggested parameters for success."The challenge is in selecting the right permittivity of the medium, the right amount of charge, in which all of this happens," said Joshua Rovey, associate professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering in The Grainger College of Engineering at the U of I. "You have to choose the right materials for the nanoparticles ...

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