Monika Wood

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department or School

Physics and Astronomy

Committee Member

Patrick Koehn, Ph.D.

Committee Member

James Sheerin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ernest Behringer, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Marshall Thomsen, Ph.D.


The research presented here describes a unique way to deposit a large amount of charge onto the surface of a thin dielectric sheet to create a Lichtenberg electret that can be discharged elsewhere to form spectacular Lichtenberg figures. This study examines how the amount of charge deposited onto the surface, the geometry of the probes, and the type of material used can all impact the formation of the Lichtenberg figures. Photographs of the Lichtenberg figures were taken and used to determine the voltage, current, and energy released during each discharge. It was found that a single discharge can release 0.49 J of energy in 1.24 μs for a Lichtenberg figure that covers approximately 500 cm2. Lichtenberg figures can be used to characterize high-voltage surges on power lines, to diagnose lightning strike victims, to analyze electrical breakdown of insulating materials, for artistic purposes, and for similar applications where pulsed capacitors are commonly used.

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