the silicon condenses into a floating aerosol bound into a ball
...in a high current? Sounds like a plasma to me! (-:
That would seem to be an obvious way to form glowing balls during lightning-focussed events, yes? Just that nobody in the article said so.
The original ideas that these guys are following up came from the University of Canterbury (that’s just north of the LCA2006 site in Dunedin), which might cheer up some of the Kiwis at LCA2007.