| Laboratory Director|
Arthur F. Thurnau Professor Alec D. Gallimore
DR. ALEC D. GALLIMORE is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and is a Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan where he directs the Plasmadynamics and Electric Propulsion Laboratory. Professor Gallimore is also the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education in Michigan's College of Engineering.
Professor Gallimore is on the faculty of the Applied Physics program at Michigan
, is the director of the NASA-funded Michigan Space Grant Consortium
and is project director for the Michigan/Air Force Center of Excellence in Electric Propulsion
. He received his B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering from Rensselaer, and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Aerospace Engineering from Princeton.
His primary research interests include electric propulsion, plasma diagnostics, space/re-entry plasma simulation, use of plasma for energy production and environmental remediation, and nano-particle physics.
He has experience with a wide array of electric propulsion technologies including Hall thrusters, ion thrusters, arcjets, RF plasma sources, 100-kW-class steady MPD thrusters, and MW-level quasi-steady MPD thrusters. Professor Gallimore has implemented a variety of probe, microwave, and optical/laser plasma diagnostics.
The author of some 300 journal and conference papers on electric propulsion and plasma physics, Professor Gallimore serves on the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Electric Propulsion Technical Committee and is a Fellow of AIAA.
Professor Gallimore is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Propulsion and Power and for the JANNAF (propulsion) Journal, and has served on a number of advisory boards for NASA and the Department of Defense including the United States Air Force Scientific Advisor Board (AFSAB).
He was awarded the Decoration for Meritorious Civilian Service in 2005 for his work on the AFSAB.
| Affiliated Faculty|
Professor Benjamin Longmier
, Department of Aerospace Engineering Assistant Professor
Dr. Ben Longmier is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan. He is developing the next generation of advanced thrusters from 10W to 200kW to enable wide access to remote destinations within the solar system. To enable this, his research interests center on electric propulsion, spacecraft and aerostat design, low temperature plasma physics, plasma materials interaction, and plasma diagnostics. Prior to coming to UM he served as the Principal Research Scientist at Ad Astra Rocket Company, and was responsible for developing experiment campaigns and new plasma diagnostics appropriate for high power engine and exhaust plume testing. He has served as PI and project manager for six NASA microgravity spacecraft technology development programs over the past eight years with six cumulative hours in microgravity. He earned his PhD in Engineering Physics in 2007 from the University of Wisconsin under Noah Hershkowitz, and then completed a post-doctoral fellowship with NASA and the University of Houston. In 2011, he was appointed Chair of the new American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics National Educator Academy-High Altitude Balloon Program to enhance student aerospace education nation-wide.
Dr. Tim Smith
, Department of Aerospace Engineering Lecturer
Tim Smith is a prior post-doctoral researcher at PEPL and presently a lecturer in the UM Aerospace Engineering department.
For his dissertation research, he developed and validated a novel method for deconvolving xenon ion velocity distributions from laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) spectra, allowing unprecedented nonintrusive measurements of Hall thruster and ion engine plumes.
Dr. Smith has 9 years of vacuum facility experience (with Hall thruster, ion engine, and hollow cathode tests) and 17 years of test experience with optical diagnostics for fluid dynamics, both passive (using emission spectroscopy) and active (LIF and optogalvanic spectroscopy with ring dye and extended-cavity diode lasers).
Dr. Smith was the Principal Investigator on AFOSR program to design a magnetic deflector system to protect spacecraft laser communications systems from Hall thruster plume charge-exchange ions.
He was also PI (in cooperation with Penn State) on a NASA effort to develop a low-intrusive fiber-optic plug for reentry vehicle TPS materials.
His current research interests center around the modeling, development, and validation of advanced optical diagnostics for electric propulsion (EP) systems.
| Post-doctorate Fellows|
Dr. J.P. Sheehan
J. P. received his bachelor's degree in Engineering Physics in 2009 and his Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics in 2012 from the University of Wisconsin - Madison (UW).
At UW he studied the plasma sheath surrounding electron emitting surfaces, particularly as applied to emissive probe measurements of the plasma potential, through both theory and experiment.
Currently he is working on developing the CubeSat Ambipolar Thruster, a miniature plasma thruster for small satellites, and investigating the basic physics of plasma in converging/diverging magnetic nozzles.
, NASA NSTRF Fellow
Michael J. Sekerak received his B.S. (High Honors) in Mechanical
Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology in 1999. He then pursued
an M.S. in Aeronautics and an Engineer's Degree in Spacecraft and Mission
Design from California Institute of Technology in 2001 and 2005,
respectively. While attending Caltech he
conducted research on vacuum arc thrusters with the Advanced Propulsion
Technology Group at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He was called to
active duty in the U.S. Army and served 5 years as a cavalry officer
including one combat tour in Iraq as well as the Missile Correlation Center
in Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. From 2007 to 2010 he was an
aerospace and propulsion engineer with the Missile Systems group at Sandia
National Laboratories, where he designed and launched vehicles in support
of the Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy. He is also currently a Major
in the Air Force Reserves and has taught science and spacecraft design lessons
for the Reserve National Security Space Institute
He is a fourth year graduate student whose primary research interests are high-speed plasma transients and instabilities in EP devices;
specifically oscillatory modes of Hall-Effect Thrusters.
| Graduate Students (Candidates)|
, NSF Fellow, Zonta International Amelia Earhart Fellow, Ford Fellow, & NASA JPFP Fellow
Kimberly Trent graduated from Yale University with a B.S. in Applied Physics and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Applied Physics at the University of Michigan. Her research interests include advanced propulsion and plasma physics.
Her research focuses on measuring and characterizing the electron energy distribution functions (EEDFs) of cathode and Hall thruster plasmas and on finding ways to predictively control these distributions to increase electron populations
that contribute to ionization. Thruster efficiency depends on its ability to ionize and accelerate propellant to high velocities, so increasing ionization would increase thruster efficiency, which would help enable more complex and
extensive space missions. To address this research topic, Kimberly is currently conducting test cell experiments with a hollow cathode, the electron-producing component in Hall thrusters. In these experiments, she plans to investigate
specific EEDF tailoring schemes to determine the most promising one, which she will then test out on a 6-kW thruster. Time-averaged EEDFs are calculated from measurements obtained using PEPL's High-speed dual Langmuir probe system (HDLP
along with upgraded data acquisition hardware.
Chris graduated from Arizona State University in spring 2008 with degrees in physics and mathematics and then began studies in the Applied Physics program at Michigan in fall 2008.
His research interests are in optical diagnostics of the plasma dynamics in Hall thrusters.
He has done work on the cavity ring down spectroscopy (CRDS)
and laser induced fluorescence (LIF) projects at PEPL and is currently focused on developing
a time resolved LIF
system at the lab.
| Graduate Students (Pre-Candidates)|
, NSF Fellow
Scott received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan State in the spring of 2012 and joined PEPL following graduation.
Scott is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan. While an undergrad he worked on research
concerning composite materials as well as the motion of cracks in Antarctic ice sheets. Scott is a first year student whose research interest
is high-power nested-channel Hall Thrusters.
Timothy Collard graduated from the Missouri University of Science and Technology with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
in 2013. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan. As an undergraduate, his research focused on identifying
ionic liquids suitable for dual-mode propulsion system and simulating their chemical and electrospray performance, as well as developing a two-phase cold
gas propulsion system for microsatellites. Currently, he is working on the CubeSat Ambipolar Thruster.
Ethan Dale graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering in 2013. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in
Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan. As an undergraduate, his research focused on resonance probing of low temperature plasmas.
Currently, he is working on the CubeSat Ambipolar Thruster.
Frans Ebersohn NASA NSTRF Fellow
Frans received both his B.S. and M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Texas A&M University. He joined PEPL in Fall 2013 and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan.
He performed research on magnetic nozzles physics for his Master's thesis and is continuing this work with specific application to the Cubesat Ambipolar Thruster. His current focus is primarily
on numerical simulations of magnetic nozzles in an effort to optimize this technology for specific impulse and thrust. His research is funded by a NASA Office of Chief Technology Space Technology
Marcel completed his undergraduate degree in physics at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
As an undergrad, his research experience included working with quantum dots, gamma ray detection, Mössbauer spectroscopy, simulation of magnetic fields in Hall Thrusters, and the development of teraHertz photonic components.
His current research interests lie in the physics of advanced propulsion systems.
Sarah graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.S. in Astronautical Engineering in 2014. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan.
During her undergraduate studies, her research focused on solid propulsion for hypersonic sounding rockets as well as the development of a methane liquid rocket engine. Her current research interests lie in advanced electric propulsion systems.
| Graduated Ph.D. Students|
, Graduated University of Michigan in 2011, Ph.D.
, Graduated University of Michigan in 2011, Ph.D.
Tim B. Smith
, Graduated University of Michigan in 2002, Ph.D.
Lyon B. King
, Graduated University of Michigan in 1998, Ph.D.
| Graduated Masters Students|
, September 2012 - August 2014
research topic: Cubesat Ambipolar Thruster experiment
, 2009 - 2013
research topic: Plasma/material interactions
status: Now research engineer at Michigan Aerospace Corporation
, September 2006 - December 2007
research topic: Numerical Simulation of Hall Thruster Anode Injection
research topic: NanoFET PIC Modeling
status: Now engineer at Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), Hawthorne, CA
, January 2003 - May 2005
research topic: Plasma-wind tunnel measurements for the NASA SVETI project
status: Now engineer at Accurate Automation Corporation, Chattanooga, TN
, June 2003 - November 2003
Visiting Graduate Student from the University of Stuttgart
Professor Monika Auweter-Kurtz of the University of Stuttgart is the PRINCIPAL ADVISOR
research topic: Plasma temperature and number density measurements in the plume of a high-power Hall thruster plume
, September 2002 - December 2003
research topic: Supporting plasma-wind tunnel tests on the NASA URETI project
status: Now development engineer at Aerojet’s Electric Propulsion Center in Redmond, WA
, September 2002 - December 2003
research topic: Supporting tests to make internal ion engine
status: Now engineer in family-owned general aviation aircraft parts supplier
, September 2000 - September 2001
research topic: ExB probe operations
status: Now engineer in the NASA Mars exploration program, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
, September 1997 - May 1998
research topic: Development of a neutral particle flux probe for Hall thruster plume characterization
status: Now research and development engineer in electric propulsion, NASA Glenn Research Center
, January 1996 - May 1997
research topic: Development of a single-aperture retarding potential analyzer for Hall thruster plume characterization
status: Now engineer at Space Systems/Loral working on electric propulsion
, September 1992 - December 1994
research topic: End-Hall thruster plume diagnostics
status: Now engineer at Detroit Diesel Corporation
, September 1992 - December 1993
research topic: Arcjet performance measurements
status: Now engineer at the Boeing Airplane Company
, January 1992 - December 1993
research topic: Thrust measurement of electric thrusters
status: Now engineer at the Daimler-Chrysler Company
, September 1991 - May 1993
research topic: Arcjet operations & PEPL build-up
status: Now electric propulsion engineer at the Atlantic Research Corporation