My 10" Tesla Coil and Lichtenberg Figures

* Go HERE if you want to find out more about Nikola Tesla, the man
* Go HERE if you want to find out how to build your own Tesla Coil
* Go HERE if you want to learn how Lichtenberg Figures are created
* Go HERE if you want to get a Lichtenberg Figure of your very own

Power arcs to the conduit ground in the ceiling fan. Discharges to a solid ground are much brighter than streamers since they carry significantly higher peak current.
coil and lamp
A 25 watt incandescent lamp is lit from the current flowing through the streamers. Peak current in power arcs to ground is typically in the range of 10-20 amps, but even the lower average current going to free-air streamers easily lights the bulb.
Coil and lamp, high power
At increased power levels, you can also see streamers issuing from the exterior of the lamp... but the glass remains unpunctured. The streamers are capacitively coupled THROUGH the glass and into the surrounding air!
breakout bump
A "breakout bump" has been applied to the surface of the toroid to help "steer" streamers so that they are directed perpendicular to the camera..
View of coil
A closer view of the primary, strikerail, secondary, and the toroid. The secondary has a 1/16" conformal coating of clear epoxy.
high power, breakout bump
A bit of blue corona can be seen coming from the tip of the fan's pull chain. A breakout bump again is used to direct the discharges.
Gas tubes on coil
A series of 18" long colored gas tubes is lit by the current flowing through the streamers to protective ground wires in the ceiling.
high power run
The coil is really cooking with no breakout bump. Snapping streamers come within about 2 feet of the operator... .
streamers to ground
With no "breakout bump" the streamers go out in all directions. The room is just not tall enough or wide enough... 
Vertical Tree figure
A Lichtenberg Figure - Plexiglas was bombarded with high-speed  electrons from an Linear Accelerator (LINAC). Charge builds up internally until dielectric breakdown occurs - the discharge only takes 20-60 billionths of a second, creating "Captured Lightning®"! Actual Size of this specimen is 4" x 6" x 1". Go HERE to find out how they are made.
Bushy-dendritic tree
This 2" x 2" sample shows a very bushy, dendritic discharge network. The discharge is a type of fractal, and the self-similar pattern extends all the way down to the molecular level of the polymer! The discharge process is similar to how natural lightning discharges excess charge within the top of a cloud. 
Double Layer specimen
This magnificent 3"x 3" x 2"  specimen was irradiated on one side, turned 180 degrees and irradiated again. This created two regions of excess charge. When the lower region was discharged, it also caused internal breakdown to the top region. A very unique and beautiful piece!  In June, 2004 we were able to successfully create similar figures. 
12" x 12" x 1" HUGE Figure 
This huge 12" x 12" x 1" Figure is probably one of the largest and most beautiful Lichtenberg Figures in existence. The discharge pattern demonstrates self-similar fractal properties, and the fine dendritic discharges virtually fill the entire area.
12" Discharge - unfiltered
  The birth of a big Lichtenberg Figure!
The amount of charge held within a 12" x 12" figure can potentially be quite dangerous. When the figure is manually discharged, the result is a blinding flash and and a very loud bang, similar to a high voltage capacitor discharge. The internal potential of this figure is estimated to be ~2 million volts. The above image captures the creation of the figure to the left.
Cylinder figures
Here are a pair of 2" diameter cylindrical Lichtenbergs that were created by a 10 MEV pulsed electron beam accelerator. The yellow tinge of solarization is still present 24 months after irradiation. This gorgeous pair was provided by Tony DeAngelis.
Lichtenberg Cubes
A gorgeous example of Lichtenberg Figures that were created by irradiating cubes on three sides and then discharging them. The result are feathery Lichtenberg Figures along three planes coming together as a "corner cube" inside the plastic. We have also more recently been able to irradiate cubes on all six sides, leaving an internal cubic lightning pattern!
Lichtenberg Figures are now available here!
Spider Lightning 

Cloud-to-cloud lightning discharges sometimes exhibit fractal patterns similar to Lichtenberg Figures. Sometimes called anvil crawlers or spider lightning,  a spreading sequence of these finger-like discharges may span tens of miles, literally crawling across the sky and lasting for more than a second! The resemblance between these majectic discharges and those captured within Lichtenberg Figures is more than superficial - it's fundamental to how electrical insulators (solid, liquid or gas) break down under high electrical stress. 
500 kV arc
More Arcs 'n Sparks pictures, including  the longest man made spark discharge (over 325 feet!), MPEG's of three-phase 345 kV arcs, a crane tangling with a 46 kV feeder (and losing!), an MPEG of an arcing substation and exploding power transformer, switching problems on a 500 kV substation switch that's creates the world's biggest Jacob's Ladder, and a closeup of the million+ volt birth of a Lichtenberg Figure.

Some Other Places to Visit:

Tesla Information Center Tesla Coil Link to 345 kV Switch MPEG
Shrunken Coins for Sale Lichtenbergs for Sale
Tesla Info Center
"Quarter Shrinker"
More "Arcs & Sparks"
Get Shrunken Coins
Get Lichtenberg Figures

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This web site is maintained by Bert Hickman.  © 1999-2021, All rights reserved.  No portion of this page may be reproduced without consent from the author.