Philosophical Society of Washington

MEMS Rocket Engines Applications and Status

A Marriage of Two 20th Century Technologies

Robert J. Collins
Retiring President

2155th Meeting Abstract
Friday, January 10, 2003 at 8:30 PM


The utility of low thrust, small rocket engines for a new generation of small spacecraft will be reviewed. This interest has lead to an effort to develop millimeter-sized engines. Recently, using techniques first developed in the electronics industry small rocket engines have been fabricated and tested. The properties and fabrication techniques of these micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) rockets engines will be presented. As a consequence of the different construction processes and physical scale some of the properties of these engines differ from those of conventional rocket engines and will be discussed. An example will be displayed.

About the Author:

Robert J. Collins is a Professor Emeritus of the University of Minnesota. He joined the Electrical Engineering Department and Physics Departments of the University of Minnesota after a 10-year stay at Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill New Jersey. During his career he has worked and published in solid-state physics, laser optics and most recently in some aspects of reentry physics and rocket technology. He holds a B.A. and M.S. in Physics from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. also in Physics from Purdue University.

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