I O N I C S K I E S

About Us

We are an interdisciplinary capstone team at UC Santa Barbara, and our goal is to design, build, and fly an aircraft powered by ionic propulsion.

Why ionic propulsion?

Ionic propulsion is silent and has no moving parts!

How does it work?

Electrodes properly arranged and given thousands of volts will ionize and accelerate air molecules. Known as corona discharge, we can take advantage of this phenomenon to generate thrust. A power converter is used to step a 200V battery voltage up to the 40kV thruster drive voltage. The converter consists of an H-bridge, transformer, and Cockroft-Walton multiplier. Lithium-polymer cells are used as a lightweight power source.

Our design

Our final aircraft design, which we think can fly 1-2km in 4-8mins.

Our prototypes!

Our final, and best, unpowered glide. Fully laden with batteries and electronics, proved that we can fly straight and far.

Stallion prior to launch.

Converter holding 40kV, 525W with a 2.9Mohm resistor load! The resistor load emulates the thruster's steady state properties.

A better view of our converter test setup. In the center is the power converter. On the right is a plank of wood with a long string of resistors. And on the left are the main batteries that power the aircraft.

What we achieved

We gave ourselves 9 months to build the world's best ionic wind aircraft. In that time, we achieved a novel integrated airframe thruster design and showed that it flies stably and controllably, a working high voltage DC-DC power converter that delivered the power we needed, and a launcher that accurately accelerated the aircraft to its desired speed. There were multitudes of integrations between subsystems that we progressively designed out as the project matured. What we didn't do, is a powered flight of the aircraft. We ran out of time to fix a problem where the power converter would blow up when delivering the highest voltages to the thrusters. Throughout the year we overcame hundreds of problems - technical, logistical, and political - but the only problem that finally intervened was time. We believe this is the best ionic wind aircraft design ever, and are seeking to put together a new group to continue this journey.

Team
Thruster Team
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Dylan Hachmann
Thruster lead

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Mihir Shevgaonkar
Team lead

Airframe Subteam
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Sam Reynolds
Airframe lead

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Jackson Bright
Airframe member

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CJ Westenhofer
Airframe member

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Harrison Erny
Airframe member

Converter Subteam
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Robert Enger
Converter analog lead

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Alexander Rivera
Converter digital lead

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Chadwick Harris
Converter member

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Katiria Rivera
Converter member

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Kyle de la O
Converter member

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Carlos Perez
Converter member

Launcher Subteam
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Ryan Perkins
Launcher co-lead

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Steven Man
Launcher co-lead

Sponsors
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Jonathan Siegel

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Thank you to our sponsors for funding, advising, and encouraging our project!

Contact

ECE Capstone Advisor: Prof. Ilan Ben-Yaacov - ilan@ece.ucsb.edu
ME Capstone Advisor: Prof. Tyler Susko - susko@ucsb.edu
Team Contact: Mihir Shevgaonkar - mihir00@ucsb.edu

Advisors

Prof. Ilan Ben-Yaacov
Prof. Tyler Susko
Prof. Mark Rodwell
Prof. Elliot Hawkes
Dr. Jim Honea
Dr. Haofeng Xu

Newsletter

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for pictures and videos on our progress!