Creating a huge 2 million volt two-layer Captured Lightning sculpture!

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This video shows a huge 15" x 20" x 2" Captured Lightning (Lichtenberg Figure) being discharged by our team of "Spark Whisperers" during the November, 2010 production run. In the beginning of the clip, the specimen had been irradiated by a high-current 5 million volt (5 MeV) electron beam. The specimen was then carefully flipped over, and irradiated a second time. This created two independent highly-charged negative charge planes, each about 1/2" below the surface. The lower charge plane was then discharged by carefully poking it with a pointed, grounded tool. This allowed the trapped electrons within the lower charge plane to escape. The exiting high-current electrical flash (sudden charge "detrapping" from the acrylic) creates a brilliant, tree-shaped lightning-like discharge inside the acrylic. As the discharge quickly propagates through the lower charge plane, the upper charge plane also sparks down to the lower plane creating thousands of smaller sparks. The result is a beautiful, complex 3D discharge structure that fills almost all of the specimen. Prior to discharging, the estimated voltage stored of the two charge planes was over 2 million volts. The energy stored within the internal electrostatic field was over 4,000 joules, and the peak discharge current was over 6,000 amperes. The main discharge occurred in less than 500 billionths of a second(!). The electrical discharges blasted their way through the acrylic at a velocity of over 1 million meters/second, and the dissipated power peaked at over 8 gigawatts. And yes, it makes a very satisfying BANG! After the main discharge, secondary discharges continue to dissipate small pockets of residual charge. These smaller sparks may occur for over 30 minutes after the mail discharge. Although these smaller discharges are harmless, the main discharge must be treated with utmost respect. This video clip was captured by Bill Hathaway, GCL Laboratories. Team members appearing in this clip include Bert Hickman, Dave Atkins, Todd Johnson, Connie Trembley, and Tim Koeth (off camera).A higher resolution image of a similar figure, illuminated by blue and white LED's, can be seen at more information about Captured Lightning sculptures (Lichtenberg Figures), please see our other videos or visit our Lichtenberg information pages at:

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