Text Size [+] [-]

ABOVE: Single array of 400 electrospray needles is demonstrated, with 300-µm-tall structures, tapered and grooved sidewalls, and sharp tips. ABOVE: Single array of 400 electrospray needles is demonstrated, with 300-µm-tall structures, tapered and grooved sidewalls, and sharp tips.

Advanced Microfabrication Technologies

Microfabrication technologies under development at MDL continue to support NASA’s mission to drive advances in science, technology, and exploration.

Using state-of-the-art fabrication tools at MDL, engineers are developing new techniques to fabricate the next generation of components that will bring new small and large spacecraft mission capabilities to fully utilize the capabilities of advanced spacecraft instruments. The 3D microfabrication technique, developed at MDL, has enabled the fabrication of scalable electrospray thruster needle arrays with integrated capillary-force-driven feed systems to spray indium charged particles to generate micronewtons to millinewtons of thrust at very high efficiency and specific impulse to enable interplanetary missions. Also, the ability to define ultra-black surfaces adjacent to highly reflective or transmissive surfaces with lithographic precision has enabled JPL’s black silicon technology to be incorporated into several terrestrial flight instruments, including HyTES, AVARIS, UCIS, HyspIRI, MaRS2, PRISM, and NEON.