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. A drone with ionic propulsion could be built with solar panels to achieve infinity flight. And, ionic propulsion is really cool!

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 second prototype airframe (currently being built), which we think can fly 1-2km in 4-8 minutes.

Our latest prototypes!

Oh, what a difference control surfaces can make.

Turns a 200Vdc input into 200Vac, 800Vac, 160000Vac, and finally a 40kVdc output. Imagine the electrons dancing inside! Like Oompa Loompas in a chocolate factory.

These batteries provide a total output voltage of 200V, which feeds into the power converter above.

As touched on in the "How does it work?" section, thrust is generated by electrode pairs. The electrode pairs here are a 0.1mm stainless steel wire my finger is touching, and a copper strip taped to a PVC pipe at the top of the frame.

Our first prototypes

Our first glimpse at flight.

Yes, we built a trebuchet.

Team
Thruster Team
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Dylan Hachmann
Test rig 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

cnsi

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!