Dr Antonio Gurciullo

Postgraduate Research Student


Antonio Gurciullo received the BSc degree in Aerospace Engineering from Politecnico di Torino (Italy) in 2013 and the MSc degree in Electrophysics from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden) in 2015. From October 2015, he is pursuing the PhD degree in Electronic Engineering at University of Surrey (UK).

He is a member of the Surrey Plasma Dynamics and Propulsion Group at Surrey Space Centre and his research focuses on technologies that enable the use of molecular propellants in electric propulsion, such as alternative neutralisation techniques, and plasma diagnostics for molecular plasma investigation.

He also worked as Research Assistant at Surrey Space Centre and has been involved in projects supported by both institutional (ESA, UK Space Agency) and industrial (SSTL, Airbus DS) funding bodies.



Gurciullo, A., Lucca Fabris, A. and Knoll, A. (2017) Direct Current Plasma Electron Source for Electric Propulsion Applications Using Atomic and Molecular Propellants. IEEE Transactions of Plasma Science, 45(9), 2472–2480.
The design and performance of a novel direct current (dc) neutralizer for electric propulsion applications are presented. The neutralizer exploits an E×B discharge to enhance ionization via electron-neutral collisions. Tests are performed with helium, argon, xenon, air, and water vapor as working gases. The I–V characteristics and extraction parameters are measured for both atomic and molecular gases. The maximum partial power efficiency is 4.2 mA/W in argon, 2.7 mA/W in air, and 2 mA/W in water vapor. The typical utilization factor is below 1 and the power consumption is less than 120 W. A semiempirical model is derived to predict the performance of dc plasma cathodes using atomic gas. A comparison with existing plasma cathodes and conventional LaB6 cathodes is presented, and design optimizations aimed at improving the performance are proposed.
Gurciullo, A., Knoll, A. K. and Bianco, P. (2016) Experimental Performance Characterization of a Novel Direct Current Cold Cathode Neutralizer for Electric Thruster Applications. 52nd AIAA/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, AIAA 2016-4945. https://doi.org/10.2514/6.2016-4945
In this paper we present the design and test campaign results of two plasma cathodes for electric propulsion applications. One cathode is based on a Hall-type discharge operated in DC. Three magnetic topologies have been tested in order to govern the discharge and the electron extraction with this neutralizer. The second cathode exploits a planar magnetron discharge operated in DC. Preliminary results of extraction tests involving atomic and molecular gases are presented. It is shown that the presence of open-loop Hall currents and null magnetic regions created by four arc magnets whose axial polarity is alternated may increase extraction performance of the Hall-type neutralizer. It is also shown that the extraction characteristics of the planar magnetron neutralizer are qualitatively similar to those of the Hall-type neutralizer.