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Dept. of Lightning and Overvoltage Protection

The department "Lightning and Overvoltage Protection" arose from the traditionally close cooperation between Ilmenau University of Technology and the company DEHN + SÖHNE GmbH + Co. KG, Neumarkt, Germany. In August 2011 the department officially launched its activities with the appointment of Dr.-Ing. Michael Rock to this endowed professorship.


Daily life is more and more affected by electrical systems, equipment and devices. At the same time the degree of cross-linking between these devices and the equipment is increasing, on one side on the electrical power supply and on the other hand for the exchange of data and information. This is for complex processes in industrial installations but also for the single end-user in commercial or residential applications. With the introduction of new concepts (renewable energy generation, e-cars, intelligent house, smart grid) the complexity of the energy and data networks will increase dramatically. Aside this global warming is probably increasing the intensity of lightning and therefore an extent of damage. 

Transient disturbances with highest stresses are resulting from lightning impact but can also have lower levels resulting from nearby electrical devices. Beside this a lightning strike produces direct thermal, mechanical and electrical stress which can damage structures, equipment for transmission of data and energy but also can be a threat to humans. 

To reduce these threats and the resulting damages there is the demand to enhance and to increase the efficiency of protection devices and concepts against direct lightning strikes as well as conducted interference and radiated emission.


The activities of the department focuses on research to survey the effectivity of available protection devices and concepts and to develop basics for new approaches for protection solutions. 

  • Basic research on and enhancement of surge protection devices (on basis of spark gaps, non-linear voltage-dependent resistors and high power semiconductors) 
  • Surge protection devices for direct current systems (Power generation, distribution at high and low voltage, local DC-networks)
  • Generation of reproducible currents with pulse power facilities for fundamental studies and for testing of protective devices 
  • Simulation of transient processes in electrical networks


Beside a wide range of practice oriented bachelor and master thesis the department provides various courses (lectures, seminars and practical courses) for the education of students at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, especially in the fields of lightning and surge protection but also transient processes in switchgears.