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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.

Please note that this resource requires at least version 1.6 of Java (JRE).
3 supplemental documents are available
1 source code document is available
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Electricity & Magnetism
- Capacitance
= Dielectric
- Electric Fields and Potential
= Electric Field
- General
Modern Physics
- Chaos & Non-linear Dynamics
- Lower Undergraduate
- Upper Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Simulation
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Learners
- General Publics
- application/java
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Access Rights:
Free access
This material is released under a GNU General Public License Version 3 license.
Rights Holder:
Sam Castle
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created May 16, 2012 by Wolfgang Christian
Record Updated:
June 3, 2014 by Andreu Glasmann
Last Update
when Cataloged:
May 16, 2012
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
S. Castle, Computer Program DIELECTRIC BREAKDOWN LIGHTNING MODEL (2012), WWW Document, (https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=11998&DocID=2814).
S. Castle, Computer Program DIELECTRIC BREAKDOWN LIGHTNING MODEL (2012), <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=11998&DocID=2814>.
APA Format
Castle, S. (2012). Dielectric Breakdown Lightning Model [Computer software]. Retrieved July 21, 2024, from https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=11998&DocID=2814
Chicago Format
Castle, Sam. "Dielectric Breakdown Lightning Model." https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=11998&DocID=2814 (accessed 21 July 2024).
MLA Format
Castle, Sam. Dielectric Breakdown Lightning Model. Computer software. 2012. Java (JRE) 1.6. 21 July 2024 <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=11998&DocID=2814>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Sam Castle", Title = {Dielectric Breakdown Lightning Model}, Month = {May}, Year = {2012} }
Refer Export Format

%A Sam Castle %T Dielectric Breakdown Lightning Model %D May 16, 2012 %U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=11998&DocID=2814 %O application/java

EndNote Export Format

%0 Computer Program %A Castle, Sam %D May 16, 2012 %T Dielectric Breakdown Lightning Model %8 May 16, 2012 %U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=11998&DocID=2814

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Dielectric Breakdown Lightning Model:

Is Based On Easy Java Simulations Modeling and Authoring Tool

The Easy Java Simulations Modeling and Authoring Tool is needed to explore the computational model used in the Dielectric Breakdown Lightning Model.

relation by Wolfgang Christian

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