Jean-Claude Diels – Laser-Stimulated Lightning Channels

Lightning strikes start over 9,000 US wildfires and cause $5 billion in damages every single year — but a new laser system for creating artificial lightning channels hopes to change that. We’re joined by Dr. Jean-Claude Diels, Professor of Physics, Astronomy and Electrical Engineering at the University of New Mexico, who’s spent over three decades studying laser-induced lightning discharges with the goal of safely redirecting this powerful force of nature.

About Our Guest

Jean-Claude Diels received a Ph.D. degree in 1973 from the University of Brussels, Belgium, for his research on coherent pulse propagation performed at the University of California, Berkeley, under advisement of Prof. E. L. Hahn.

He is currently Professor of physics and electrical engineering at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. He has graduated over 50 students in various areas including coherent interactions, ultrashort pulse generation and diagnostics, nonlinear propagation of intense pulses, and laser-induced discharges.

He co-authored with Wolfgang Rudolph the graduate textbook Ultrashort Laser Pulse Phenomena: Fundamentals, Techniques and Applications on a Femtosecond Time Scale and with Ladan Arrisian the book, Lasers: The Power and Precision of Light, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the laser, and published 5 book chapters.

Dr. Diels has been honored with a fellowship in the Optical Society of America, and is the recipient of the 51st Annual Research Lecturer Award (April 2006), and of the 2006 Engineering Excellence Award of the Optical Society of America.