Canadian scientists claim that they had made a major advance toward redirecting lightning bolts with help from laser beams. The new technology would soon make traditional lightning rods obsolete since the latter’s efficiency is rather iffy.
Lightning rods placed on tall buildings can only attract lightning but the exact direction these high voltage bolts may follow remains largely unpredictable. Canadian scientists said that they had developed a method of changing direction of a lightning arc under strict laboratory conditions.
In their laboratory they employed the Advanced Laser Light Source system to direct man-made lighting arcs away from objects. Scientists hope that their discovery would soon have industrial applications and prevent accidents where high-voltage arcs can go astray.
‘Our fascination with lightning and electric arcs aside, this scientific discovery holds out significant potential and opens up new fields of research.’
said Prof. Yves Bégin from the National Institute of Scientific Research (INRS) in Quebec, Canada.
The INRS sponsored the study which was published this week in the journal Science Advances.
Currently high-voltage arcs are widely used in machining, pollution containment applications, combustion engines and lightning. But the new finding may expand the area of the applications for the technology.
Researchers said that they managed to bent high-voltage volts into S-shape and many other by only using an electric charge generated by laser beams. The electric charge pushed electric bolts into following a certain path.
But shaping high-voltage arcs with lasers does not only give them a different trajectory, it also provides them with interesting properties.
Pr. Bégin explained that the experiment was led over a distance of a few inches with extremely powerful lasers and state-of art technology. He also disclosed that the “spectacular” achievement would have been impossible without the extraordinary research materials the INRS provided researchers with.
As a follow-up, the team currently investigates the “self-healing” properties of some laser beams. Self-healing here means that a laser beam can resume its path soon after it gets past an obstacle that had blocked its trajectory. These series of experiments are conducted by Professor Morandotti, another INRS researcher.
Prof. Morandotti’s team explained how they put a physical obstacle between two sources of laser. They were surprised to learn that the beam could actually “leap” over the obstacle and join the laser beam on the other side without damaging the obstacle. They currently believe that this experiment clearly shows that laser beams’ trajectory could be predicted.
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