Hall thrusters are widely used in space propulsion applications due to their high specific impulse, high thrust efficiency, and high thrust density. The thrusters experience sputter erosion of the insulator channel, which is the primary factor that limits thruster lifetime. An important area of Hall thruster research is to understand the erosion and assess thruster lifetime, for which advanced diagnostics of thruster is critical.
The Laser Plasma Diagnostics Laboratory, under the direction of Professor Yalin, is developing laser based cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS) as a diagnostic approach to study thruster lifetime. The CRDS technique relies upon high finesse optical cavities to provide the high sensitivity needed to measure the sputter erosion.
Laser Plasma Diagnostics Laboratory: http://www.engr.colostate.edu/lpdl