Faculty Advisor

Blandino, John J.


A plasma discharge chamber was designed and built to investigate the charging of dust in a plasma. The design was based on an ion thruster discharge chamber using a filament cathode. The discharge chamber consists of an aluminum cylinder with gas and electrical feedthroughs. A filament cathode is used to ionize this gas and create the plasma. Magnets are used to increase the electron residence time in the gas and hence the number of collisions. Dust is introduced using a rate-controllable dispenser and falls through the chamber where it is charged through collisions with ions and electrons. Some of these dust particles fall into an induction charge detector that measures their charge. A Langmuir probe is also used to collect data on the plasma to investigate its properties.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Date Accepted

March 2008


Mechanical Engineering


Aerospace Engineering

Project Type

Major Qualifying Project



Advisor Department

Mechanical Engineering