It's an intriguing process of capturing the image of lightning. Basically, beautiful shapes are created within electrical insulators by passing high voltage discharges. A German physicist 'Georg Christoph Lichtenberg' discovered this idea back in 1700s.
Bert Hickman used his artistic talent to create beautiful shapes of these high voltage discharges in polished acrylic. I believe he will be the best person to explain how exactly he creates these mesmerizing sculptures:
"This Captured Lightning sculpture was created by injecting a block of polished acrylic with a beam of high speed electrons from a 5 million volt particle accelerator."
"Electrons were first injected from the left side. The specimen was then rotated 180 degrees, and additional electrons injected through the opposite side. This created two independent layers of electrical charge, each located about one-half inch below the surface. The internal charge layer on the right side was then manually discharged, creating a flash of miniature "lightning" within the charge layer above. Additional electrical discharges then grew between the right and left charge layers, forming a beautifully interconnected 3D discharge structure. The entire discharge took place in less than 100 billionths of a second!"
The sculptures are illuminated using LEDs. As you can imagine, that each of these sculptures are unique and when you look at the shapes that Bert Hickman along with his physicist friend Todd Johnson has created, you are bound to be amazed, if not spell-bounded.
Hickman explains how he got started on this project:
"We were intrigued by the incredible beauty and the physics of Lichtenberg Figures but we were continually frustrated by their scarcity. A group of fellow “Spark Whisperers” (physicists and electrical engineers) decided to conduct independent research into the theory and technique of producing them."