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Micromachines 2017, 8(5), 141; doi:10.3390/mi8050141

Geometric Optimization of Microfabricated Silicon Electrodes for Corona Discharge-Based Electrohydrodynamic Thrusters

Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
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Academic Editor: Massood Tabib-Azar
Received: 4 April 2017 / Revised: 24 April 2017 / Accepted: 1 May 2017 / Published: 3 May 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microplasma Devices)
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Abstract

Electrohydrodynamic thrust is an emerging propulsion mechanism for flying insect-scale robots. There is a need to both minimize the operating voltage and maximize the output force when designing microfabricated electrodes for use in these robots. In this work, an array of hybrid wire-needle and grid electrode geometries were fabricated and characterized to attempt to minimize both corona discharge onset voltage and thrust loss factor. Statistical analysis of this dataset was performed to screen for factors with significant effects. An optimized emitter electrode decreased onset voltage by 22%. Loss factor was found to vary significantly (as much as 30%) based on collector grid geometric parameters without affecting discharge characteristics. The results from this study can be used to drive further optimization of thrusters, with the final goal of providing a path towards autonomous flying microrobots powered by atmospheric ion engines. View Full-Text
Keywords: electrohydrodynamic force; corona discharge; atmospheric ion thrusters; flying microrobots; ionocraft electrohydrodynamic force; corona discharge; atmospheric ion thrusters; flying microrobots; ionocraft
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Drew, D.S.; Pister, K.S.J. Geometric Optimization of Microfabricated Silicon Electrodes for Corona Discharge-Based Electrohydrodynamic Thrusters. Micromachines 2017, 8, 141.

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