High-voltage engineers create nearly 200-foot-long electrical arcs using less energy than before

This photograph shows a 60-meter-long lightning-like electrical arc, created by researchers at the University of Canterbury, in New Zealand. Credit: Credit: Rowan Sinton, Ryan van Herel, Dr. Wade Enright, and Prof. Pat Bodger (researchers), Ryan van Herel and Dr. Stewart Hardie (photo).

Photos taken by the researchers show plasma arcs up to 60 meters long casting an eerie blue glow over buildings and trees at the High Voltage Laboratory at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

A team of engineers at Canterbury University in New Zealand has developed a method to create nearly 200-foot-long electrical arcs — visible currents of electricity traveling through air that has been broken down into electrically charged particles. Others have created longer arcs, but the traditional technique requires large amounts of energy in order to break down the air.

The new technique requires much less energy. In it, an arc travels along the path of a thin copper wire. At 0.2 mm, the wire is a little larger than the diameter of an average human hair. The wire explodes when a voltage is applied, creating a burst of light that lasts for about as long as an average camera flash, less than one thousandth of a second, and a plasma, a gas of charged particles.

via High-voltage engineers create nearly 200-foot-long electrical arcs using less energy than before

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