Trapping Lightning In A Box Results In A Stunning 3D Image

Jun 28, 2015 By Madeleine Brown
What you see here is neither magic trick nor special effect. This is a Lichtenberg figure, the result of an electrical charge striking an insulating material and becoming trapped within. "How does this work," you might ask. Well, because insulating materials aren't excellent conductors of electricity, the figure requires some help from a process called irradiation. Irradiation is a process that exposes any given object to radiation, enabling the insulating material here to conduct an electrical charge. By throwing some high-speed electrons into the mix, you get the exact conditions that are conducive to lightning strikes.

NUTEK Corporation, an irradiation facility in Northern California, demonstrates the results of the irradiation process by aiming an electrical current at a block of acrylic, creating a miniature bolt of lightning. Instead of just exploding the acrylic, the charge creates the awesome 3-D image because the electrons collide with the plastic molecules and are then stopped in their tracks.
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