Laser-assisted guiding of electric discharges around objects

Matteo Clerici, Yi Hu, Philippe Lassonde, Carles Milián, Arnaud Couairon, Demetrios Christodoulides, Zhigang Chen, Luca Razzari, François Vidal, François Légaré, Daniele Franco Angelo Faccio, Roberto Morandotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Citations (Scopus)
397 Downloads (Pure)


Electric breakdown in air occurs for electric fields exceeding 34kV/cm and results in a large current surge that propagates along unpredictable trajectories. Guiding such currents across specific paths in a controllable manner could allow protection against lightning strikes and high voltage capacitor discharges. Such capabilities can be employed for delivering charge to specific targets, electronic jamming or for applications associated with electric welding and machining. Here we show that judiciously shaped laser radiation can be effectively utilized to manipulate the discharge along a complex path and to produce electric discharges that unfold along a predefined trajectory. Remarkably, such laser induced arcing can even circumvent an object that completely occludes the line of sight.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1400111
JournalScience Advances
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2015


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