Stephen Whitmore

Document Type


Publication Date


First Page


Last Page



A new rocket ignition mechanism developed at Utah State University, arc-track ignition, is very promising, but its underlying physics are poorly understood. An engineering/physics joint team was formed to investigate the process and suggest avenues for improvement of the technology. The objectives of the team evolved over the course of seven months of research. By the nature of this approach, understanding was extended in many ways, but few results were conclusive.

Two accomplishments overshadow the others: the discovery of a new arc-track ignition method, and cataloging of materials compatible with arc-track ignition technology. Thin film arc-track ignition has the promise of reducing energy needs many-fold and increasing the range of materials compatible with arc-track ignition. The material properties database will enable organizations to determine which materials they should use in constructing their own arc-ignition systems, based on their facilities’ capabilities.

Included in

Physics Commons