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Installation demonstrates how terawatt lasers can management and safely divert lightning

Credit: MonoLiza Shutterstock

Almost 270 years since Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod, lightning safety continues to be based mostly on this similar idea. Although we won’t deny the advantages of lightning rods, main drawbacks do stay. Installing everlasting lightning rods is not usually possible, and lightning rods additionally solely shield in opposition to the direct results of lightning. By attracting lightning strikes to conduct their present to the bottom, lightning rods might even trigger further and extra extreme oblique results, resembling electromagnetic interference and voltage surges in units and home equipment.

Decades in the past, lasers had been recognized as promising candidates to beat these hurdles. Drawing on related analysis expertise, researchers engaged on the EU-funded LLR venture developed a brand new method for lightning safety based mostly on a 5-ton, 9-meter-long tremendous laser. “The laser lightning rod is presently one of the crucial highly effective lasers in its class,” states laser engineer Clemens Herkommer of LLR venture accomplice TRUMPF Scientific Lasers in an article posted on “Photonics Media.” Herkommer has spent the final 4 years growing the distinctive laser system.

The venture staff has now put in their kilohertz-terawatt laser system on the prime of Mount Säntis with one bold purpose: to indicate that lasers can management and safely divert lighting strikes. The purpose is to make use of the high-repetition terawatt laser system to stimulate upward lightning flashes from the 123-meter-tall telecom tower at Säntis. This will provoke and information downward lightning strikes from thunderclouds to locations the place they will not trigger harm.

Lightning has immense harmful energy. It may cause energy outages and forest fires, harm digital programs and infrastructure, and even result in the damage or dying of people and livestock. The damages it causes quantity to billions of euro yearly. With climate change and the resultant rise within the frequency and severity of storms, damages from lightning will in all probability enhance sooner or later. Redirecting lightning utilizing lasers would subsequently assist shield weak websites resembling airports, forests, skyscrapers, and chemical and nuclear energy vegetation.

How the laser works

The laser system is being examined at Säntis as follows. The laser will fireplace 1,000 ultrashort laser pulses into the ambiance every second. By doing this, the “super laser” will generate an extended ionized channel referred to as a laser filament in the direction of the clouds. The laser filament will act as a preferential path for the lightning, deviating it away from weak websites. “By shooting a thousand laser pulses a second into the clouds, we can safely discharge the lightning and make the world a little bit safer,” observes Herkommer.

Säntis is taken into account one in every of Europe’s lightning hotspots. It sees about 100 lightning bolts every year, largely concentrated throughout peak thunderstorm exercise between May and August. The LLR (Laser Lightning Rod) staff will probably be testing the laser’s effectiveness on the mountain over the subsequent few weeks. Initial outcomes are due by the tip of summer time.

Upward lightning takes its cue from nearby lightning events

More data:
LLR venture web site: llr-fet.eu/

Installation demonstrates how terawatt lasers can management and safely divert lightning (2021, August 25)
retrieved 25 August 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-08-terawatt-lasers-safely-lightning.html

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