L. Brad King

L. Brad King


  • Ron and Elaine Starr Professor in Space Systems, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
  • Director, Space Systems Research Group
  • Faculty Advisor, Aerospace Enterprise
  • PhD, University of Michigan


Dr. King is an experimentalist interested in studying electric space propulsion systems, including Hall-effect thrusters, ion engines, and arcjets. By utilizing strong electromagnetic forces to accelerate an ionized plasma propellant, electric thrusters take advantage of on-orbit solar power generation to enjoy significant fuel savings over traditional chemical rockets. King's research experience in the broader field of plasma physics includes such diverse subjects as the design of the in-situ electrostatic probes, ion-energy analysis and time-of-flight mass spectrometry, Doppler laser cooling of trapped ions, optical flow diagnostics, and antimatter confinement.

Areas of Expertise

  • Space Propulsion
  • Plasma Physics
  • Optical Fluid Diagnostics

Research Interests

  • Design of in-situ electrostatic probes
  • Ion-energy analysis and time-of-flight mass spectrometry
  • Doppler laser cooling of trapped ions
  • Optical flow diagnostics
  • Antimatter confinement

Recent Publications

  • King, Lyon B., Meyer, Edmond J., Hopkins, Mark A., Hawkett, Brian S., Jain, Nirmesh N., "Self-Assembling Array of Magnetoelectrostatic Jets from the Surface of a Super Paramagnetic Ionic Liquid," Langmuir, Nov 2014, Vol. 30, No. 47, pp.14143-14150, DOI: 10.1021/la503341p Read More
  • HKing, Lyon B., Hopkins, Mark A., "Magnesium Hall Thruster with Active Thermal Mass Flow Control," Journal of Propulsion and Power, May 2014, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp.637-644, DOI: 10.2514/1.B34888 Read More
  • Hopkins, Mark A., King, Lyon B., 2014, “Assessment of Plasma Impedance Probe for Measuring Electron Density and Collision Frequency in a Plasma with Spatial and Temporal Gradients,” Physics of Plasmas, Vol. 21 (5), Article No. 053501, 11 pages, DOI: 10.1063/1.4874321. Read More
  • Washeleski, Robert L., Meyer, Edmond J., King, Lyon B., 2013, “Application of Maximum Likelihood Methods to Laser Thomson Scattering Measurements of Low Density Plasmas,” Review of Scientific Instruments, Vol. 84 (10), Article No. 105101, 9 pages, DOI: 10.1063/1.4821980.
  • King, Lyon (Brad), Makela, Jason M., Washeleski, Robert L., 2009, "Re-generable Field Emission Cathode For Spacecraft Neutralization," Journal of Propulsion and Power, Vol. 25, No. 4, Pages 970-975.
  • King, Lyon (Brad), Fossum, E.C., 2008, "An Electron Trap for Studying Cross-Field Mobility in Hall Thrusters," IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, Vol. 36, No. 5, pp. 2088-2094.
  • King, Lyon (Brad), Sommerville, J.D., Chiu, Y.-H., and Dressler, R.A., 2008, "Ion-Collision Emission Excitation Cross Sections for Xenon Electric Thruster Plasmas," AIAA Journal of Propulsion and Power, Vol. 24, No. 4, pp. 880-888.
  • King, Lyon (Brad), Massey, D.R., Makela, J.M., 2008, "Bismuth Hollow Cathode for Hall Thrusters," Journal of Propulsion and Power, Vol. 24, No. 1, pp. 142-146.
  • King, Lyon (Brad), Massey, D., Kieckhafer, A.W., 2007, "Performance and Active Thermal Control of a 2-kW Hall Thruster with Segmented Electrodes,” AIAA Journal of Propulsion and Power, Vol. 23, No. 4, pp. 821-827.
  • King, Lyon (Brad), Kieckhafer, A.W., 2007, "Energetics of Propellant Options for High-power Hall Thrusters," AIAA Journal of Propulsion and Power, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 21-25.
  • King, Lyon (Brad), Parker, Gordon, Schaub, H., Natarajan, A., 2007, "Coulomb Force Virtual Space Structures," ESA SP-633, Noordwijk: ESA Publications Division, pp. 39-44.
  • King, Lyon (Brad), Fossum, E.C., 2006, "Cross-field Mobility in a Pure Electron Plasma," Problems of Atomic Sciences and Technology, No. 6, Series: Plasma Physics, Vol. 12, pp. 219-221.
  • King, L. B. and Gallimore, A. D., "Ion Energy Diagnostics in the Plasma Exhaust Plume of a Hall Thruster," Journal of Propulsion and Power, Vol. 16, No. 5, September-October 2000.
  • King, L. B. and Gallimore, A. D., "Identifying Charge-exchange Collision Products within the Ion-energy Distribution of Electrostatically Accelerated Plasmas," Physics of Plasmas, Vol. 6, No. 7, pp. 2936-42, July 1999.
  • # King, L. B., Gallimore, A. D., and Marrese, C. M., "Transport-property Measurements in the Plume of an SPT-100 Hall-effect Thruster," Journal of Propulsion and Power, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp. 327-35, May-June 1998.
  • King, L. B. and Gallimore, A. D., "Gridded Retarding Pressure Sensor for Ion and Neutral Particle Analysis in Flowing Plasmas," Review of Scientific Instruments, Vol. 68, No. 2, February 1997.