Amanda Toledo Barrios

MIT Department: Aeronautics and Astronautics
Undergraduate Institution: Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Faculty Mentor: Paulo Lozano
Research Supervisor: Jonathan MacArthur
Website: LinkedIn

2019 Research Poster


I am a Mexican-Guatemalan American from Fort Worth, Texas who is currently pursuing an Aerospace Engineering major in the combined bachelor’s and master’s degree program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. My current research interest is in experimental mechanics, particularly aimed at understanding the mechanical behavior of polymer matrix composite systems. I am also interested in combustion and fluid dynamics especially in developing electric propulsion systems for deep space missions. My interest in pursuing a doctoral degree stems from my lifelong passion to be in scientific research and development. I also intend to become a professor. In my free time, I enjoy playing soccer and giving back to my community through volunteering.

2019 Research Abstract

Novel Materials for Electrospray Thrusters

Amanda Toledo Barrios1, Jonathan MacArthur2, and Paulo Lozano3
1Department of Mechanical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
2, 3Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Miniature satellites (e.g., CubeSats) are gaining popularity due to their small size, reduced cost, and quick development times, which allow for myriad applications such as climate monitoring, disaster response, telecommunication, and deep space exploration. Due to their size, they require very small forces for propulsion and accurate attitude control which may be provided by electrospray thrusters. Electrospray thrusters are a form of electric propulsion that provides high specific impulse with low thrust. They use an array of emitter tips made of insulating porous material and a metallic extractor grid to extract ions and droplets from ionic liquid and accelerate them via an electric field. Previous materials and processes used to fabricate emitter chips resulted in electrochemical problems at emitter tips that caused them to degrade and caused problems with shrinkage, non-uniform pores, brittleness, and slow production times. As a result, the focus shifted towards dielectric materials such as ceramic since it has the capability to be micro- and nanostructured to densely pack more emitters and avoid electrochemical problems. A monodispersed silica-infused ceramic resin was developed to use via Stereolithography to print emitter chips. A ceramic firing schedule was determined to achieve 40-60% porosity to allow for more ionic liquid transport. A test batch of the ceramic material was made into emitter chips to be characterized in a thruster testbed. The development of this new ceramic will enable the production of more efficient and long-lasting emitter chips that will be cheaper and faster to produce, benefitting the miniature satellite marketplace.