The first part of the talk deals with use of the PIC method with Monte Carlo collisions (MCC) between electrons and the ambient neutral gas to develop models to predict charge accumulation, breakdown voltage, etc. for various ambient gases, gap sizes, cathode material, and frequency of applied voltage. The second part deals with the modeling of field emission ion thrusters which are low thrust/high specific impulse devices used for in-space propulsion. The thrust is generated by extracting ions from a metallic liquid surface and accelerating them through a few kV potential difference. Particle simulations used to predict performance parameters of these thrusters are validated using experimental data for the current distribution.

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David Hanifi