Researchers at the University of Canterbury, in New Zealand, have developed a new, lower-voltage method of generating extra-long, lightning-like electrical arcs. The arcs are created when an electrical impulse is applied to a thin copper wire that subsequently explodes.
By jump-starting the arcs using exploding wires, as opposed to the traditional method of directly breaking down air, the researchers reduced the amount of voltage needed to create an arc of a given length by more than 95 percent. This photograph shows a 60-meter-long arc, thought to be the longest of its type ever created using this method.
The researchers hope that the new method could have wide applications, including inducing real lightning from thunderclouds and creating novel new electrical machines that contain plasma conductors and coils.