Scientists create a laser lightning rod and test it on a mountaintop in Switzerland


The Experiment

The Laser Lightning Rod weighs over 3 tons, is almost 5 feet wide, and is over 26 feet long. And the device was tested at a height of 8,208 feet on top of Mount Säntis.

High-speed cameras were set up to record the strikes. And high-frequency electromagnetic waves created by lightning were measured. X-ray bursts that were emitted by the strikes were analyzed, as well.

Jean-Pierre Wolf, professor of applied physics at the University of Geneva, worked as co-author of the experiment/study. 

In a statement, Wolf explained, “When very high-power laser pulses are emitted into the atmosphere, filaments of very intense light form inside the beam.” 

“From the first lightning event using the laser, we found that the discharge could follow the beam for nearly 60 meters (196 feet) before reaching the tower,” Wolf added, “meaning that it increased the radius of the protection surface from 120 meters (393 feet) to 180 meters (590 feet).”