This research was supported by Reed College as well as the Sanchez Nano-Development Laboratory’s Research Sponsored Projects Group at Portland State University. Imaging was performed at the Portland State University Center for Electron Microscopy and Nanofabrication.
Physical Review E
Ball lightning, Electricity, Energy transfer, Silicon chemistry
A phenomenon resembling natural ball lightning can be produced via electrical arcing through silicon. We use lump silicon instead of silicon wafers to achieve higher production rates and larger, longer-lived luminous balls than previously reported. The luminous balls consist of a silicon core surrounded by a porous network of loosely bound silicon dioxide nanoparticles. We find that the balls carry a small net charge on the order of 10−12 C and propose that the nanoparticles are electrostatically bound to the core due to this charge.
Porter, C. L., Miley, G. P., Griffiths, D. J., & Sánchez, E. (2014). Charge on luminous bodies resembling natural ball lightning produced via electrical arcs through lump silicon. Physical Review E, 90(6), 063102.