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Dr. Walker’s primary research interests lie in electric propulsion, plasma physics, and hypersonic aerodynamics/plasma interaction. He has extensive design and testing experience with Hall thrusters and ion engines. Dr. Walker performed seminal work in Hall thruster clustering and vacuum chamber facility effects. His current research activities involve both theoretical and experimental work in advanced spacecraft propulsion systems, diagnostics, plasma physics, helicon plasma sources, magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters, and pulsed inductive thrusters.


Current Domestic Projects:


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High-Fidelity Coupling of Predictive Plasma-Wall Models


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Very-short Antennas via Ionized Plasmas for Efficient Radiation (VAIPER)


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Magnetohydrodynamic Power Generation for Upper-Stage Rockets


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Hi-speed Plasma Science (HiPS) to Enable Advanced Radiation Devices


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Proprietary


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Solar Array Exposure to an Arcjet Plume




Past research projects:

  • Development of Negative Ion Thruster
    Supported by NASA MSFC
    GT HPEPL is currently developing an ion thruster that uses electronegative gas as a propellant. Unlike most ion thrusters, electronegative thrusters produce both positive and negative ions and accelerate both species to generate thrust. This also enables the plasma to remain quasineutral, eliminating the need for neutralizing devices like cathodes at the thruster exit. This new thruster will be built with a grant from the Marshall Space Flight Center. It will be called the MINT for Marshall’s Ion-ioN Thruster.

  • Comprehensive Study of Plasma-Wall Interaction
    Supported by AFOSR – Visit Website
    GT HPEPL is working in collaboration with researchers from Georgia Tech, Georgia Tech Research Institute, University of Alabama and George Washington University to investigate the interaction between confined plasma and wall from both a plasma physics and a materials science point of view.

  • Molecular Dynamics of Boron Nitride – Xenon Plasma Interface
    Supported by AFOSR – Visit Website
    In collaboration with Dr. Julian Rimoli
    The focus of this effort is in understanding the physics behind Hall Thruster discharge channel wall erosion, including microstructural effects which may seed larger scale erosion variations.

  • Helicon Plasma Source
    Supported by MOOG and AFOSR
    This research focuses on the physics and behavior of RF plasma sources in the HF range. The work also examines the potential of helicon devices as electrode-less thrusters that use plasma double layers to accelerate ions; work to date has included thrust measurements and plume evaluation.


Laboratory Affiliations:

Electric Rocket Propulsion Society

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Air Force Research Laboratory

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Georgia Tech Center for Space Systems

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