Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




John Robert Dennison


Charge transport, charging, and subsequent electrostatic discharge due to interactions with the space environment are primary concerns of spacecraft designers. Developing a physical understanding of the interactions of charge with the multitude of materials that spacecraft are composed of is a critical step in understanding and mitigating both short-term and long-term spacecraft degradation. In particular, the study of charge transport in highly insulating materials is critical as they store charge longer, with higher capacity, and with greater destructive capability than other materials.
The Utah State University Materials Physics Group, with the funding of the NASA James Webb Space Telescope project and Rocky Mountain Space Consortium, have developed a complete and consistent theoretical model that predicts short-term and long-term storage capabilities based on physical material parameters. This model is applicable across a wide range of experimental systems designed to test specific behaviors that characterize charging phenomena.
Modeling and understanding the complex relationships between the spacecraft and its surroundings are fundamentally based on detailed knowledge of how individual materials store and transport charge. The ability to better understand these effects will help make exploring the edges of the universe more stable, reliable, and economic.



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