Dielectric Breakdown Lightning Model Documents

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Main Document

Dielectric Breakdown Lightning Model 

written by Sam Castle

The Dielectric Breakdown Lightning Model implements a common method for modeling lightning using a grid with regions of varying electric potential to simulate the electrical charge buildup during a lightning storm. To simulate the source of the lightning in the cloud, we  set the potential to zero and place a small region of negative charge near the top of the grid. Along the bottom of the grid, we set the boundary potential to one to simulate the positive charge on the ground. All other grid points are given an initial electric potential equal to 0.5. After solving Laplace's equation, we examine all the grid points that are adjacent to a negative charge. We choose one adjacent point as the new growth site for the lightning, representing a point where the air is ionized and lightning will develop.

The Dielectric Breakdown Lightning Model was developed as a final project in a sophomore-level Computational Physics course (Phy 200) using the Easy Java Simulations (EJS) modeling tool.  It is distributed as a ready-to-run (compiled) Java archive.   Double clicking the jar file will run the program if Java is installed.  You can modify this simulation if you have EJS installed by right-clicking within the map and selecting "Open Ejs Model" from the pop-up menu item.

Last Modified May 16, 2012

Supplemental Documents (3)

Dielectric Breakdown Lightning Project Report 

Final report for Computational Physics (Phy 200).

Last Modified May 16, 2012

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Dielectric Breakdown Lightning Project Poster 

Davidson College student Research Symposium poster presentation.

Last Modified May 16, 2012

DLA Lightning Model 

Alternate lightning model using diffusion limited aggregation.

Last Modified May 16, 2012

Source Code Documents

Dielectric Breakdown Lightning Source Code 

The source code zip archive contains an EJS-XML representation of the Dielectric Breakdown Lightning Model.   Unzip this archive in your EJS workspace to compile and run this model using EJS.

Last Modified May 16, 2012