Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Laser lightning rod: Guiding bursts of electricity with a flash of light

Date:
March 13, 2012
Source:
American Institute of Physics
Summary:
Lightning is a fascinating but dangerous atmospheric phenomenon. New research reveals that brief bursts of intense laser light can redirect these high-power electrical discharges.

Using an experimental apparatus reminiscent of a classic Frankenstein movie, French researchers have coaxed laboratory-generated lightning into striking the same place, not just twice, but over and over. This feat of electrical reorientation used femtosecond (one quadrillionth of a second) pulses of laser light to create a virtual lightning rod out of a column of ionized gas. This is the first time that these laser-induced atmospheric filaments were able to redirect an electrical discharge away from its intended target and guide it to a normally less-attractive electrode.

The experiment demonstrates the potential of using laser-based lightning rods for research and protection. "The laser lightning rod would be a valuable alternative to lightning rockets," says Aurlien Houard, Ph.D., of the Laboratoire d'Optique Appliquée and co-author on a paper published in the American Institute of Physics' journal AIP Advances.

Previous experiments confirmed that femtosecond laser could produce ultrashort filaments of ionized gas that act like electrical guide wires. Further studies revealed that these filaments could function over long distances, potentially greater than 50 meters.

In a series of new experiments, the French research team sent a laser beam skimming past a spherical electrode to an oppositely charged planar electrode. The laser stripped away the outer electrons from the atoms along its path, creating a plasma filament that channeled an electrical discharge from the planar electrode to the spherical one. To determine if the filament had the ability to redirect an electrical discharge from its normal path, the researchers added a longer, pointed electrode to their experiment. Since lightning tends to follow the path of least resistance, it would preferentially strike the nearest object; in nature, that would be the tallest object.

Without the laser, the discharge obeyed this rule and always struck the taller, pointed electrode. With the laser, however, the discharge was redirected, following the filaments and striking the spherical electrode instead. This occurred even after the initial path of the discharge began to form.

Article: "Triggering, guiding and deviation of long air spark discharges with femtosecond laser filament" has been published in AIP Advances.

Authors: Benjamin Forestier (1), Aurlien Houard (1), Ivan Revel (2), Magali Durand (1), Yves-Bernard André (1), Bernard Prade (1), Amelie Jarnac (1), Jerome Carbonnel (1), Marc Le Nevé, (3), Jean-Claude De Miscault (3), Bruno Esmiller (4), Denis Chapios (3), and Andre Mysyrowicz (1). (1) Laboratoire d'Optique Appliquée, ENSTA, Ecole Polytechnique, CNRS, Palaiseau, France (2) EADS France, Innovations Works, France (3) CILAS, Laser Sources Development and Industrialization, Orleans, France (4) ASTRIUM, Space Transportation, Les Mureaux, France


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. B. Forestier, A. Houard, I. Revel, M. Durand, Y. B. André, B. Prade, A. Jarnac, J. Carbonnel, M. Le Nevé, J. C. de Miscault, B. Esmiller, D. Chapuis, A. Mysyrowicz. Triggering, guiding and deviation of long air spark discharges with femtosecond laser filament. AIP Advances, 2012; 2 (1): 012151 DOI: 10.1063/1.3690961

Cite This Page:

American Institute of Physics. "Laser lightning rod: Guiding bursts of electricity with a flash of light." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120313092058.htm>.
American Institute of Physics. (2012, March 13). Laser lightning rod: Guiding bursts of electricity with a flash of light. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120313092058.htm
American Institute of Physics. "Laser lightning rod: Guiding bursts of electricity with a flash of light." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120313092058.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) — Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world on Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. (Sept. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
What This MIT Sensor Could Mean For The Future Of Robotics

What This MIT Sensor Could Mean For The Future Of Robotics

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) — MIT researchers developed a light-based sensor that gives robots 100 times the sensitivity of a human finger, allowing for "unprecedented dexterity." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The MIT BioSuit could be an alternative to big, bulky traditional spacesuits, but the concept needs some work. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins