I want to measure the expansion of the atmosphere when it is heated and impacted by lightning, to have an idea of the propagation of sound waves made by lightning.

To do this, the ideal would be to have a box of static air which changes color or causes a durable fluorescence indicating the reaction of the electricity with the air and showing the patterns of expansion of air that has been heated by electricity.

Please can y ou suggest some chemicals which can be used to make the effects of lightning on air visible?

  • $\begingroup$ Air itself emits photons after it has been excited by lightning, e.g. $\ce{N2^{$*$} -> N2 + $h\nu$}$. However, the life times of the excited states are probably too short for your purpose. $\endgroup$
    – user7951
    Mar 23, 2016 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ Sound and air expansion are two different things $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Mar 23, 2016 at 20:00
  • $\begingroup$ I think you mean thunder but I could be wrong. $\endgroup$
    – A.K.
    Mar 23, 2016 at 22:54

1 Answer 1


Maybe something that fluoresces in the presence of ozone? A quick search gave this article. Lightning is known to convert oxygen into ozone, so I think this should work or at least give a good starting point for future development.


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