Institut national de la recherche scientifique – INRS via Science Daily:
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Lightning dart across the sky in a flash. And even though we can use lightning rods to increase the probability of it striking at a specific location, its exact path remains unpredictable. At a smaller scale, discharges between two electrodes behave in the same manner, streaking through space to create electric arcs where only the start and end points are fixed. How then can we control the current so that it follows a predetermined path? Professor Roberto Morandotti and his colleagues have discovered a way to guide electric discharges–and even steer them around obstacles–through the clever use of lasers. This scientific breakthrough was published on June 19, 2015, in Science Advances.
Using the Advanced Laser Light Source (ALLS) facility, researchers from the INRS Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications research centre tackled this challenge, which had previously been the subject of intensive research, particularly in the 1970s.