If you’re a lightening storm enthusiast and always wondering about ways to capture it, there is exciting news for you! Scientists in Canada have discovered a way to control lightening in a laboratory. They used the Advanced Laser Light Source facility to channel man-made lightning bolts around objects.
The research conducted by the National Institute of Scientific Research and published in the journal Science Advances, may have implications for industry, where high-voltage arcs are used in a variety of applications.
Yves Bégin, who is the vice dean of research and academic affairs at the INRS, said: ‘Our fascination with lightning and electric arcs aside, this scientific discovery holds out significant potential and opens up new fields of research.’
His team guided an electric charge using laser beams to follow a smooth path along straight of parabolic – arched – trajectory.
Models show using lasers configured in different shapes can give bolts certain properties and trajectories. This could be an ‘S’ shape and ‘all other kinds of trajectory achievable in principle,’ the scientists said.
Mr Bégin said: ‘This spectacular proof of concept, which was conducted over a distance of a few centimeters, required the high-power lasers, state-of-the-art facilities, and extraordinary research environment that our professors helped to create at INRS.’
Professor Morandotti extended his team’s research to look into the ‘self-healing’ properties of certain laser beam shapes.
At present arcs are used in combustion engines, pollution control applications, lighting, machining and micromachining.
The research could ‘multiply’ potential applications for the technology, according to Professor Roberto Morandotti, who led the study at the INRS.
This means if a laser beam is interrupted or blocked by an object it can ‘reconstruct’ itself once past the obstacle.
The researchers placed an object between two electrodes and released the charge.
They recorded it ‘leaping’ over the obstacle without damaging it before coming back into line with the laser on the other side, showing how the path of the spark could be predetermined, they claimed.