The FET-OPEN Laser Lightning Rod project (LLR)
Power outages, forest fires, electronic and infrastructure damages, personal injuries… Controlling lightning is a long time dream of mankind. Although lightning protection techniques have seen considerable progress in the past, the best external lightning protection to date is still based on the concept of the lightning rod, invented by Benjamin Franklin almost 300 years ago.
The LLR project aims to investigate and develop a new type of lightning protection using a laser-based technique to stimulate the number of upward lightning flashes with the aim of transferring cloud charges to the ground and thus to influence the incidence of downward natural lightning.
For a detailed presentation of the project see: The European Physical Journal, Applied Physics 92, 30501 (2021)
Demonstration of Laser guided lightning
The results of the LLR experimental campaign performed on Mont Saentis in 2021 have been published in Nature Photonics on January 16. We report the first demonstration of laser guided lighting over 50 m using laser filamentation. This work represents an important step forward in the development of a laser based lightning protection.Link to publisher
A Phd position available at EPFL
A PhD position starting in January 2021 (4 years duration) is now open at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) to work on “Upward Lightning Initiation and Development”. More details here
Article dans La Liberté
Au Säntis, le laser détourne la foudre Un consortium constitué autour de physiciens de l’Université de Genève veut révolutionner le paratonnerre. Link to the article
Article in CNN.com
Scientists are trying to control lightning with a giant laser
Article in Optics and Photonics News
Can a “Super Laser” Tame Lightning? “The Germany-based laser and machine tool behemoth Trumpf announced that—working with scientists at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and other organizations—it has hauled a 5-ton, 9-m-long “super laser” to the top of Säntis mountain in the Swiss Alps, and has installed and fired up the terawatt-scale light source. The ultimate goal of this audacious exercise: Demonstrate the ability of lasers to control and safely redirect lightning strikes…” Link to the article
First experiment with the laser on Mont Saentis
First images of the laser LLR laser firing up on the Saentis Mountain.