The NEMESIS consortium is composed of five complementary partners competent to undertake a joint research work on the C12A7:e- technology for in-space applications. It presents a good balance between academia (Justus-Liebig-University Giessen in Germany, Politechnic University of Madrid in Spain), Research Institutions (FOTEC in Austria), and SMEs (Exotrail in France and ATD in Spain).

The aim of the consortium is to cover the full chain of technology and product development of electride-based neutralizers from the materials synthesis to EP system integration tackling all four types of ceramic cathode types, i.e., heated and heaterless hollow cathodes as well as single-filament and dispenser-type thermionic emitters. The partners of the NEMESIS consortium hold all expertise required for linking all the elements along development chain (shown in Figure 1.3.21.a):

  • ATD is an expert in ceramics synthesis and component processing. It is one of the few providers of high-quality electride material in Europe.
  • UPM is well experience in designing, fabricating, and testing ceramic cathodes.
  • JLU has a strong expertise in materials science as well as in EP testing. They have sound experience with the use of Iodine as alternative propellant.
  • EXO develops its thrusters and EP systems and is well experienced in the design of EP components, testing and system integration.
  • FOT develops thrusters and EP components has its own test facilities.

All NEMESIS partners have participated in collaborative R&I projects, at national and international levels. The technical coordination and monitoring will be performed by the PC, ATD, in close collaboration with the WP leaders. The PC has participated in FP7 and Horizon 2020 actions which enabled ATD to gain experience and necessary understanding of the management and coordination procedures of EU-funded projects. Valuing the collaborative nature of the project, each partner will contribute in accordance with their skills and fields of expertise to achieve fruitful end results.

Figure 1. Development chain required for a reliable realization of C12A7:e based neutralizer technology.

Coordinator: ATD (Advanced Thermal Devices)
Members: UPM (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid)
JLU (Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen)
EXO (Exotrail)
FOTEC (Forschungs- und Technologietransfer GmbH)



ATD is devoted to the reseach on novel thermal materials and to the development of multidisciplinary applications and solutions based on these novel materials.
After 5 years researching on the C12A7:e- electride thermionic novel material, ATD has reached one of  the most extensive know-how both in Europe and wordwide on:
– C12A7 material synthesis,
– C12A7 transformation into C12A7:e- electride,
– Understanding of C12A7:e- characteristics at physical, chemical and quantum level,
– Expected behaviour of C12A7:e- electride material as thermionic emitter under any possible cathode, neutralizer, or any other electron emitter device design

Founded in 2013, ATD is a privately owned technological Spanish Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) devoted to the research, development and manufacturing of novel thermal materials, advanced ceramics and high-performance refractories for a wide range of applications. ATD company´s concept is based on a strong technological multidisciplinary background relying on professionals specialized in different fields like energy efficiency, solid waste treatment, telecom technology, materials technology and manufacturing processes. Coming from the R&D&I division of furnaces industry, ATD was also born with the purpose of capitalizing this research effort by looking for other additional possible range of applications in other industries, and has developed over the last years a wide network of collaborators including several Universities, Technological and Scientific Institutes, as well as with specialized technical companies and individual consultants.
ATD is very active in R&D&I activities and projects to achieve top performance in novel materials products and services, re-investing over the last years in R&D all the yearly incomes. In 2015 ATD decided to invest in opening a new research line on the synthesis of novel thermionic materials able to convert the wasted heat of furnaces into electricity. The target is to be able to operate at lower temperatures and better efficiency compared with state of the art materials. Conventional thermionic materials such as Rh, La, and Cs oxides, typically exhibit working temperatures above 900 ºC and efficiencies below 10%. For this reason, ATD started working with the novel and promising material C12A7:e- several years ago and in late 2018 got in touch with the members of the present consortium which is now leading for NEMESIS project.




UPM is the largest Spanish technological university specialized in all engineering fields.  
The Plasma Physics Laboratory of the Department of Applied Physics has the experience, vacuum facilities and equipment to carry out the activities of present proposal.
Background experience research lines:
– Electron sources for space applications  (cathodes, plasma thrusters, …)
– Electron and ion probes (emissive and collecting Langmuir probes, RPA)
– Low power ion thrusters (plasma sources)

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) is the largest Spanish technological university specialized in all engineering fields and architecture. With two recognitions as Campus of International Excellence, its outstanding research activity together with its highly-qualified professional trainings, make UPM a really competitive university at international level.

More than 2.400 researchers carry out their activity at the UPM, grouped in more than 200 Research Groups, 20 Research Centers or Institutes and 55 Laboratories, all of them committed to transform the knowledge generated into innovation advances applied to the productive sector, contributing to solve the challenges of the European citizens.

The intense collaboration with governmental bodies and industry guarantees that research at UPM offers real solutions to real-world problems. The dynamism of R&D&I activity at the UPM, together with the transfer of knowledge to society, are among its lines of strategy.

These two commitments place UPM among the Spanish universities with the greatest research activity, both at national and international level, counting on an International Project Office that helps and support researchers in the international research arena. UPM highly innovation driven commitment is showed by the application for around 40 patents/year thanks to its Technology Transfer Office and by the generation around 20 spinoff/year (70% survival rate) trained and mentored by the UPM Center for Innovation Support. Moreover, UPM is highly committed to communication and outreach with and specific unit devoted to it.



JLU is a comprehensive university covering the complete spectrum of subjects including all natural sciences, social sciences, law, and medicine.
The Institute of Experimental Physics I has two research foci:
– Space physics, in particular electric propulsion
– Materials science, synthesis and characterization and has strong background experience on
– Operation of large EP test facilities
– Operation EP systems with alternative propellants, including iodine
– Neutralizer development and testing
– Structural, electronic and vibrational characterization of oxides

The Justus-Liebig University of Giessen was founded in 1607 by landgrave Louis V. of Hesse-Darmstadt. It is the second largest university of the federal state of Hesse (more than 28.000 students in Winter Semester 2018/19). Its teaching and research portfolio is organised in 11 faculties covering the complete spectrum of subjects including all natural sciences, social sciences, law, and medicine. JLU has around 90 formal agreements for partnerships, cooperative and exchange programs worldwide. In addition, JLU cooperates with 18 universities in North America and 9 universities in Australia under the auspices of Hesse’s state partnership program.


The Institute of Experimental Physics I (IPI) is part of the Faculty of Physics, Mathematics, Computing and Geo-Sciences and is the largest of five institutes in the physics section. IPI has two research foci. One is solid-state physics and the other one is plasma and space physics. The expertise of the condensed-matter division covers fabrication, nanostructuring and processing of materials as well as diagnostics and spectroscopy for comprehensive materials characterization. Fabrication techniques include molecular-beam epitaxy, atomic-layer deposition, and ion-beam and conventional sputtering techniques. The fully equipped clean room enables various 2D and 3D lithographic techniques and etching for structuring of materials on the micro and nanoscale. The diagnostics include photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), X-ray diffraction (XRD), secondary ion-mass spectrometry (SIMS), atomic force microscopy (AFM) as well as ductile profilometry, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and steady-state as well as ultrafast optical spectroscopy ranging from the UV to the THz regimes.



EXOTRAIL, funded in 2015, is a spin-off of a consortium that formed in the early 2000s by 3 French public institutions: CNRS (Scientific Research National Center), UVSQ (Versailles Saint Quentin-en-Yvelines University) and CNES (French National Space Agency)
Huge background experience as specialists in miniature Hall Effect Thrusters, EXO has been developing a series of mini and micro HETs:
– ExoMG™–nano (50W / 1.5mN Hall thruster for 10-20 kg satellites).
– ExoMG™–micro (100W/5mN Hall thruster for 20-100 kg satellites)
– Mission design & optimization software ExoOps™ product

Exotrail is a start-up company designing electric propulsion systems and software for small satellites.

The development of the technology started within public research. A consortium formed by three well known French public institutions was formed at the beginning of the years 2000: CNRS (Scientific Research National Center), UVSQ (Versailles Saint Quentin-en-Yvelines University) and CNES (French National Space Agency). One 200W-class Hall Effect Thruster using permanent magnets instead of coils – the PPI – was developed and patented in 2007. Later on, a laboratory (Groupe d’Etudes de la Matière Condensée – CNRS/GEMAC) worked until 2014 on a miniaturized version of the PPI called μPPI with the objective of equipping small satellites with HET technology.

Convinced by the potential of this technology, 4 people gathered to create Exotrail in 2015. Paul Lascombes (Chief Scientific Officer), Nicolas Heitz (Chief Operating Officer), Jean-Luc Maria (Chief Technical Officer) and David Henri (Chief Executive Officer).

In 2015, this propulsion project was selected in a very competitive process by a Technology Transfer Office (TTO SATT Paris-Saclay) and benefited from a 1M€ public funding for a two-year R&D programme (technology acceleration programme), ending in spring 2018. The objective was to bring the miniaturised thruster from TRL3 (in 2016) to TRL5.

The team moved from a proof of concept to a fully integrated prototype of the smallest Hall Effect Thruster in the World – fitting in a 2U+ CubeSat form factor (called ExoMG™–nano 50W/1.5mN Hall thruster for 10-20kg satellites), and in pararallel started the development of a larger 100W-class thruster (ExoMG™–micro 100W/5mN Hall thruster for 20-100kg satellites) using the same technological principles than the initial PPI plasma chamber.

In July 2018, the Exotrail team raised a 3.5M€ in late seed fundraising from Venture Capitals. The fundraising was led by 360 Capital Partners and included Irdi Soridec Gestion and BpiFrance, as well as experienced business angels. Additionally, Exotrail has also been selected by the French Minister of Higher Education, Research & Innovation as an iLab “Grand Prix” (largest entrepreneurship contest in France where a 450k€ award, as well as technical & commercial sponsoring from Thalès Alenia Space and its CEO, was given to Exotrail). In february 2019, Exotrail wins the French “Concours d’Innovation”, a highly selective contest with a 1.5 M€ grant.

All of this has allowed the team to grow from 6 to 20 people to ensure the development of ExoMG™–nano, ExoMG™–micro and the mission design & optimization software ExoOps™ product developed by Exotrail.



FOTEC is the research subsidiary of the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt:
– Founded in 1998
– Turn-over > 2.5 M€
– ~ 40 employees
– More than 20 national and international R&D projects
– Quality management system in line with the standard EN ISO 9001:2015

FOTEC is the research and technology subsidiary fully owned by the University of Applied Sciences in Wiener Neustadt, and aims at turning academic research into technological innovations that aid industrial needs. The company was founded in 1998 in Wiener Neustadt. Our interdisciplinary team carries out industrial and funded research and development (R&D) projects. The execution of such projects is done in close cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt, especially with the degree programs Mechatronics/Microsystems Engineering, Business Engineering, and the Master programme, Aerospace Engineering. Apart from research projects directly requested by industrial partners, FOTEC has a large number of ongoing international cooperation conducted on behalf of the EU, the European Space Agency (ESA) or our national funding agency FFG, both as partner and leader of large international consortia (e.g. several FP7-projects).

In 2011, FOTEC took over the former Space Propulsion and Advanced Concepts department of the Austrian Institute of Technology and created the new department Aerospace Engineering, located at the Technology and Research Campus Wiener Neustadt. The other departments of FOTEC are Engineering Technologies (TEC), dealing with industrial technologies, and Innovative Software Systems (BISS). Since October 2011, the processes and the quality management system of FOTEC are certified in accordance with ISO 9001.