Lightning Arc Drawings - Dielectric Barrier Discharges for Artwork
Dielectric barrier discharges provide a simple means to generate non-thermal, non-equilibrium plasma. In this paper the use of the dielectric barrier discharge in the surface discharge arrangement in atmospheric-air under 50 Hz ac conditions is presented as a novel and flexible luminous medium for artwork. A device using the dielectric barrier discharge in this context has been termed a lightning arc drawing. In its simplest form, the lightning arc drawing consists of a conducting back-plate, a sheet of insulation and one or more conducting front electrodes. The front electrodes and the back-plate form the two terminals of the lightning arc drawing. High voltage, in the range 10–20 kV, is applied between the terminals. The discharges are clearly visible in darkness and semidarkness. They also photograph and film extremely well. A 4 m x 1 m lightning arc drawing was displayed at a recent student festival at the University of Canterbury. A high voltage test transformer was used to energize the drawings’ 4.2 nF capacitance to around 20 kV. A secure area was formed and conductor clearances were established in accordance with local safety standards.