Lightning Strike

Lichtengraph™ Lichtenberg Figures


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Lichtenberg Figures

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How are our Lichtenberg figures made?


First, an optically-clear acrylic shape is cut and the edges polished. Then the shape is placed in a special holding fixture.


Next, the fixture is placed in the beam path of a linear accelerator (LINAC) housed in a concrete bunker. The bunker room has 3 foot thick concrete walls to protect the physicists from the electrons and X-rays generated when the LINAC is in operation. 


When safely out of the room, the LINAC is energized and it bombards the target with a 6 million electron-Volt beam of electrons, charging the acrylic "cloud."

Spontaneous Discharge

Like a real cloud, when the charge becomes greater than the acrylic "cloud" can hold, it suddenly discharges. With a bang and blinding flash, like a full-sized lightning stroke, J-streamers channel the charge to the edge where it blasts out in a miniature lightning bolt. 

Most of the flash occurs in less than 40 billionths of a second. But it continues to flicker for a few minutes as the last of the charge finds its way out. The heat of the streamers melts and fractures the acrylic, turning it opaque white along its path.


After the discharge occurs, the LINAC is turned off and locked out, and the technician removes the finished sculpture.

Controlled Discharge

Alternatively, to control where the discharge occurs, we turn off the beam before the charged block discharges. Then we remove the charged block and strike it with a metal point at the location we want the discharge to occur. 

No Danger

Note, no nuclear radiation or radioactive materials are used anywhere in our process or product. The electron beam is generated electronically. There is no charge left on the block by the time we ship it to you. 

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