Molecular dynamics simulations of a liquid gallium electrospray thruster

Dae Yong Kim, Michael M. Micci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Molecular dynamics was used to simulate the operation of a liquid gallium electrospray thruster. Molecular dynamics calculates the motions of the ions and ion clusters of liquid gallium in a high electric field (∼1 V/nm) after they are extracted from a platinum capillary. Liquid gallium at 320 K is simulated with a modified ion-ion potential model. The platinum capillary at 320Kis modeled using a three-zone wall model with a Langevin thermostat, and the flow rate at 30 mm/s is generated by the fluidized piston model. The insertion part of a grand canonical ensemble (μVT) is adopted to supply ions of liquid gallium constantly into the platinum capillary. The electric potential and field generated by the extraction ring are solved by a combination of a finite element method and a finite difference method. The results of the simulations under several different operating conditions are used to characterize the performance of an electrospray thruster.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)899-905
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Propulsion and Power
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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