Hall effect thruster principles. Xenon atom and electron injection inside a ExB field topology generates a plasma. The electric field induced by the reduced electronic axial mobility accelerates the ions, creating thrust.
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A Hall effect thruster consists of an anode located at the upstream end of the discharge channel, of ceramic walls and of a xenon injector. An external cathode provides electrons to neutralize the ion beam.
The magnetic circuit of a Hall thruster is composed of magnets or coils, located at the inner and outer edges of the channel. It generates a field of increasing intensity along the channel, maximum and radial near the exit plane.
A few electrons emitted from the cathode are trapped by the magnetic field lines. Axial mobility is greatly reduced, thus generating a strong outside directed electric field. The electronic movement is the combination of a cyclotronic rotation around the field lines, represented by the purple electrons, and of an azimuthal drift induced by the ExB field topology, therefore giving rise to the Hall current. The resulting movement is represented by the green electron.
Neutrals coming from the injector are ionized by electronic impact then accelerated by the electric field, creating thrust.