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Spindt-type field-emission cathodes for use in electric propulsion (EP) systems having self-assembling nanostructures that can repeatedly regenerate damaged cathode emitter nanotips. A nanotip is created by applying a negative potential near the surface of a liquefied base metal to create a Taylor cone converging to a nanotip, and solidifying the Taylor cone for use as a field-emission cathode. When the nanotip of the Taylor cone becomes sufficiently blunted or damaged to affect its utility, the base metal is re-liquefied by application of a heat source, a negative potential is reapplied to the surface of the base metal to recreate the Taylor cone, and a new nanotip is generated by solidifying the base metal.
Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI (US)
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King, Lyon Bradley, "Self-regenerating nanotips for low-power electric propulsion (EP) cathodes" (2011). Michigan Tech Patents. 5.