According to researchers at the National Institute of Scientific Research (NISR), lightning can be harnessed and diverted via laser beams.
Lightning bolts are already a lucrative tool for sparking combustion engines, machining as well as micromachining or diverse applications for controlling pollution. The high-voltage electric arcs have been fiddling in the scientific community for quite a while.
Now, according to Yves Begin, the vice dean of academic affairs and research at the National Institute of Scientific Research:
“Our fascination with lightning and electric arcs aside, this scientific discovery holds out significant potential and opens up new fields of research”.
The new laser beam control indeed opens up a new array of possibilities due to controlling the path electric charges can take.
The research was conducted using the Advanced Laser Light Source or ALLS facility. Different laser shapes and beams have been used to study how electric discharges behave. It resulted that different combinations of laser beams gave the electric discharges both distinct properties as well as distinct trajectories.
One application of the ALLS showed that lightning bolt discharges may even follow an S-shaped trajectory. Between two electrodes one object was placed. When the discharge was released, it jumped the object without inflicting damage and successfully returned to the laser guide on the opposite side.
While this was one of the more impressive applications studied in the research, the scientists stated that a number of other trajectories may be shaped for the electrical charges.
The laboratory-based experiment required state of the art facilities and tools. Even as such, the distance travelled by the electric charge was of only a few centimeter. Nonetheless, the proof of concept research went further to inspect the self-healing abilities of laser beams.
Mr. Begin explained that the self-healing capability of a laser beam implies that if the trajectory is interrupted by one object, then it can easily reconstruct once the obstacle is bypassed.
The research brings an exciting new array of possibilities for harnessing the power of electrical charges the trajectory of which can even be predetermined.