Scientists discovered a way to guide electric discharges using lasers

Jun 24, 2015 13:00 IST

Scientists discovered a way to guide current or electric discharges by using lasers (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation).

The discovery was published on 19 June 2015 in an article by a team of researchers, led by Professor Morandotti, titled Laser-assisted guiding of electric discharges around objects in Science Advances of the international journal Science.

Researchers demonstrated that the ability of lasers in ionizing air can be used in directing and even steering electric discharges around obstacles. Thus, electric discharges were made to follow a designated smooth path along a straight or parabolic trajectory or even S-shaped trajectory.

To prove this, the researches placed an object between the two electrodes (located few centimeters apart) and observed that the discharge leapt over the obstacle, without damaging it, and returned to its laser guide on the other side.

Though electric arcs or lasers have long been used in technologies such as combustion engines, pollution control applications, lighting, machining and micromachining the present finding has many potential applications that includes the ability to control the path of lightning.

Researchers conducted the experiments at the Advanced Laser Light Source facility of the INRS Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications research centre in Varennes, Canada.

It was funded by European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7) and the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research among others.

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