Skip to main content

Secondary navigation:

ISR Space Chemistry Laboratory -AFRL

isr at the air force research laboratory


The Boston College Institute for Scientific Research participates in the Space Chemistry Laboratory at the Air Force Research Laboratory's Space Weather Center of Excellence.  We provide scientific expertise and academic resources for basic and applied research in the outer reaches of Earth's atmosphere.

Our work primarily involves using ion beam and mass spectrometry methods to do laboratory-based investigations of the chemistry of ions in Earth’s ionosphere, with particular interest in the interaction of spacecraft with this environment

Typical experiments involve a radiofrequency octopole guided-ion beam tandem mass spectrometer, in which absolute cross sections can be obtained for ion – molecule reactions as a function of collision energy, in the hyperthermal energy range relevant to low Earth orbit, and in which product recoil energies can be determined using time-of-flight methods. 

Our studies of ion – molecule reactions also contribute to the fundamental knowledge base in this area.   Among the highlights of our work are the two U.S. patents we have obtained: 

#5,767,513/High Temperature Octopole Ion Guide with Coaxially Heated Rods, R.A. Dressler & D.J. Levandier;

#6,609,363/Iodine Electric Propulsion Thrusters, R.A. Dressler, D.J. Levandier & Y.-H. Chiu.

Point of Contact for this project is Patricia Doherty.