Weakly ionized, non-equilibrium plasma may have practical applications to supersonic flight of aircraft and missiles. The applications include drag reduction through modification of shock waves in front of supersonic vehicles and modification of boundary layers next to the skins of the vehicles. Plasma may be useful for non-moving control surfaces and for aiding supersonic combustion in engines. Workers at Sandia have extensive experience with plasma generation, diagnosis, and modeling in many different applications. Recently, we have developed a novel surface plasma source for application to supersonic flight.
Front and Top view photos of surface plasma source on an 8cm diameter hemispherical surface
These photographs show a version of the surface plasma source operating on a hemispherical test body in non-flowing low-pressure nitrogen atmospheres. We want to develop the source further and to perform wind-tunnel tests to develop detailed understanding of the response of the plasma and test body to supersonic flight conditions.
Point of Contact: Greg Hebner