In 2016, the recent development in the field of discharge control with laser and high-power fs lasers motivated us to apply for a FET OPENgrant in 2016 to develop a high-power high repetition ultrashort laser for lightning control. Started in 2017, the goal of the Laser Lightning Rod (LLR) project is to investigate and develop a new type of lightning protection based on the use of upward lightning discharges initiated through a high-repetition-rate multi-terawatt laser. The project is a collaboration between LOA-ILM, J.-P. Wolf at Université de Genève, F. Rachidi at EPFL, M. Rubinstein at HES-SO, as well as laser company Trumpf Scientific Lasers, and aerospatial company Ariane group. The feasibility of the novel technique is also based on cutting-edge high-power laser technology and on the availability of the Säntis lightning measurement station in Northeastern Switzerland, located at an altitude of 2 500 meter. A low-density channel created by the 1 J, 1 kHz, 700 fs laser will operate by promoting the initiation of upward discharges to preemptively transfer cloud charges to the ground.

The laser lightning rod project, European Physical Journal Applied Physics 92, 30501 (2020)

Project website