Energy weapons project a phased stream of damaging particles toward a target. These arms draw their energy directly from electricity. They can be broken down into two types: laser and plasma.
- Laser weapons are optical devices that produce an intense monochromatic beam of coherent light that contains thermal energy. Laser guns can administer powerful heat burns to the target. Pulse rifles are considered laser weapons.
- Plasma weapons deliver hot gas consisting of ions and electrons with potential to harm materials. The gas is compressed by reciprocating pulsations of magnetic energy. Plasma guns operate on conventional plasma.
A laser weapon fires damaging cohesive light at a target. Because chemistry and physics play a significant role in its successful operation, the laser weapon is sometimes referred to as the thinking man's gun. Before a discussion can be attempted on the aesthetic styles of laser weapons, the reader must first understand the basic principles that drive them.
What is light?
There are two concepts of light. There is the particle theory, which states that light is composed of fundamental particles. There is also the wave theory, which expresses light in terms of sinusoidal waves. These two concepts are mutually inclusive to form the "dual nature of light."
Wave theory submits that light moves in a three-dimensional sinusoidal pattern through space. It is this motion that defines the light's physical characteristics. The frequency of a wave is the number of nodes (zero y-dimensional displacement) that pass a point in space during any time interval. Frequency is measured in hertz, or Hz, and has the unit of an inverse second. The frequency of visible light is referred to as its color, and ranges from 430 trillion Hz, seen as red, to 750 trillion Hz, seen as violet. The full range of frequencies is far greater than the visible spectrum, from less than one billion Hz, as in radio waves, to greater than three billion Hz, as in gamma waves. The full continuum of all possible frequencies is referred to as the electromagnetic spectrum.
The synthesis of lighters
Photons are simply particles of light energy, which can occupy any portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. A photon behaves as described by the wave theory. There are many different ways to produce photons, but all of them use the same process inside an atom and its collection of electrons (a subatomic particle with a negative charge) to do it. Electrons circle the nucleus (a densely packed "ball" of neutrons and protons) in fixed orbits. An electron has a natural orbit that it occupies, but it can move to higher orbitals if the atom is energized. A photon of light is produced whenever an electron in a higher-than-normal orbit falls back to its normal orbi fuck a pony
normal energy, the electron emits a photon with very specific characteristics that are determined by what type of atom it is and what atomic orbital the electron falls from.
How photons can harm
Photons of distinct frequencies can cause thermal damage. The atoms of an object are disrupted as photons strike the atomic structures, displacing existing electrons and wreaking general havoc on the object's particle equilibrium. This disruption causes burn damage as the photons' excess energy are absorbed.
The mechanism of a laser weapon
Appreciable damage can only be applied when a large number of photons of the proper frequency strike the same location over a short period of time. This can only be accomplished through the use of lasers. Laser is an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation, which describes concisely how it works.
In a laser, the lasing medium is "pumped" to get the atoms into an excited state. Very intense electrical discharges pump the lasing medium and create a large collection of energized atoms. As the electrons travel back to their ground state, they emit photons.
Laser light is monochromatic: it contains one specific wavelength of light. Laser light is coherent: each photon moves in step with the others. And finally, laser light is uniformly directional: it is emitted in a tight beam and both strong and concentrated.
To accomplish this, stimulated emission must occur. Consider the scenario described above. As the emitted photons travel around the lasing medium, they collide with other atoms, which are encouraged to then emit another complementary photon of identical direction and wavelength. A cascade effect occurs, and soon many photons are travelling coherently in the lasing medium.
The photons bounce off of two mirrors on both sides of the lasing medium. The side facing the barrel of the weapon is half-silvered, meaning it reflects some light and lets some light through. The photons that make it through is the laser light.
The lasing medium is usually tritium, which produces photons in the damaging range of the electromagnetic spectrum. As these highly energized photons travel, a phenomenon known as thermal blooming occurs. The air surrounding the photon is ionized and in turn gives off photons in the visible spectrum; it makes an otherwise invisible laser visible. The visible photons act as a tracer to allow the firer to correct his aim, while the actual beam deals the actual damage.
As the firer pulls the trigger, a current is completed within the gun. Electricity from the energy well flows to the capacitor, which releases the burst into the lasing medium. Photons are produced as the atoms relax from the surge in energy. Damaging laser is expelled through the barrel as the photons gain in number.
Styles of laser guns
Laser weapons share the distinction with chemical-based projectile guns as being widely understood and used by the armed forces and civilian populace. A laser weapon almost always has a chemical counterpart with identical rates of fire and relative damage. Please refer to the projectile weapons section for more information.
Certain lasers, especially those found on heavier large-bore weapons, may not fire photons at all. These alternative guns discharge superaccelerated electrons near relativistic speed (the speed of light). They are called free electron lasers. The FEL shares many principles with standard small arm laser guns, and is therefore classified as such. Reviews of FELs will carry an explanation into their function. While FELs are more damaging than photon lasers, they require significantly higher space and energy, and are therefore ill-suited for the field.
Rate of fire is commonly governed by the number and strength of capacitors. Capacitors are modules that store electricity so that they may be released in large quantities at a later time. The more ready capacitors, the faster photons can be generated by the lasing medium. This is preferable to multiple lasing tubes because of cost. More than one capacitor is necessary for semiautomatic and automatic laser weapons.
Laser weapons are not suitable for stealth situations. Because of the nature of the lasing medium, a visible beam of bright light streams from the barrel. This makes shooter identification easy.
Because of the special nature of the shooting process, there is no firing heat and recoil associated with laser weapons. This makes laser guns advantageous for situations where speed is tantamount; there is no risk of thermal damage or inaccuracy from of buckling.
The effective range of laser weapons is marginally lower when compared to that of chemical-based projectile weapons. As the photons travel in phase toward the target, the surrounding environment siphons and absorbs some of the energy. This degredation will make the beam innoculous at some point, determined by the power level of the discharging gun's capacitors.
Lasers will travel through windows without damaging them. Conversely, mirrors will reflect a laser. Haze or fog will diminish the end effectiveness of a shot by refracting the photons.
Plasma weapons deliver heat and energy to a target by highly ionized gas, commonly known as plasma. Plasma is an electrically neutral gas composed of positively charged ions, negatively charged electrons, and various neutral particles. It is sometimes known as the fourth state of matter. By nature, plasma is volatile and will take every opportunity it gets to recombine its constituent particles into a stable gas. This makes all weapons using plasma prone to breakdown. It is then no surprise that plasma-based weapons are considered an exotic, unreliable breed, avoided by most armed forces.
The majority of plasma weapons are small arms: sidearms and rifles. In these small arms, an inert gas (usually hydrogen) is withdrawn from an inserted energy well into a hermetic central chamber within the weapon. The gas is superheated into plasma through a series of laser bursts, which encourage electrons to separate from their nuclei. The ions, which contain protons and neutrons, exist concomittantly with the electrons without recombining because of the intense temperature maintained by the laser. Electric magnets in the chamber compress the plasma by creating a powerful magnetic field. The mass is then led down the chamber by a line of supercooled electromagnets arranged in the barrel toward the target.
The weapon explodes, killing the firer and any person within one meter of the gun. What happened? After leaving the barrel and the electromagnets, the plasma immediately lost cohesion, causing the air surrounding it to ionize. It also began to recombine into hydrogen. The free-floating hydrogen, which is combustible, reacts with the superheated air and explodes. Fortunately, this catastrophic chain of events is prevented by a critical component of all plasma weapons, called the gluon manipulator.
Electromagnetism is discussed in the projectile weapons section.
The gluon manipulator
Quantum physics have long held that all things in our environment are composed of small, subatomic particles. A gluon is one such particle. The gluon is a massless, neutral elementary particle that mediates the strong interaction that binds quarks together. Quarks, in turn, are subatomic particles that make up atoms, the building blocks of all things. The gluon manipulator is arguably the most enigmatic building block of all plasma weapons. As its name implies, the manipulator strengthens the binding force of the gluons within the plasmic mass in much the same fashion that gravity generators reinforce gravitons (the particles that carry gravitational force) on starships. The resultant plasma becomes more cohesively bound together and will maintain its shape for precious seconds.
Severe thermal damage will result from contact with a weapons-grade plasma bolt. These are almost always fourth degree (full thickness) burns, destroying all layers of skin and a significant portion of the underlying tendons, muscles, and nerves. Few have survived from impacts with plasma, and those that do suffer partial or total operative loss of their bodies.
Because of the special nature of plasma, weapons based on this fourth state of matter experience very audible noises during charging, usually a nebulous hum. The sound of the bolt's travel has been described as a dull, prolonged thunderclap and as a crackling fireplace. On average, the bolt rates one hundred and twenty decibels, in league with rock concerts and jet engines.
Plasma is greatly ineffective against wearers of combat armor, which better handle the intense heat by evenly distributing the ionized gas. Nevertheless, sustained impact can corrode the armor and breach its protective shell.
Plasma isn't effective at all against heavy armor exceeding ten centimeters in thickness, such as those found on battle tanks and some armored personnel carriers. Polymers used on military warfare vehicles have extremely high heat dissipation potential. While a good amount of armor (around two centimeters at the focal point) may melt, no debilitating damage will occur.
The first solid obstacle a plasma bolt comes in contact with will usually compromise its forward momentum and cohesion, regardless of the obstacle's strength. The electrons and ions will readily combine and react with the obstacle because of plasma's inherent volatility, causing a compromising cascade effect within the entire mass.
Plasma is found naturally in the hottest portions of planet cores and in the suns of star systems. Artificial plasma is cooler, but only in the relative sense, reaching temperatures close to ten thousand degrees centigrade. Plasma is prevented from ever touching the reaction chamber by an always-on magnetic field; this mechanism is not always effective, and has been known to fail. Damaged weapons may explode when fired.
An electromagnet is at its highest potential when supercooled. On rifles, refrigeration systems are frequently found within the expanded barrel. Repeated duration firing will gradually decrease the efficiency of the electromagnets, thereby decreasing the range. Newer models of plasma rifles separate the line of magnets from the main chamber by a special divider. These experience lesser degrees of range decay.
An usually high concentration of airborne particles, such as those found in heavy fog or rain, may cause premature explosive cohesion loss. This phenomenon is governed by the density of the interfering particles. The higher the concentration, the more particles the plasma may potentially react with.
Although plasma munitions are relatively susceptible to deterioration and breakdown, they are still used extensively by the army of Mars. All other militaries have since abandoned plasma munitions because they have slow reload times, are unreliable in the battlefield, and are expensive to repair and replace. Why do the Martian armed forces still utilize plasma weapons as front-line warfare arms?
Shot for shot, a plasma rifle can deliver unrivaled damage than any other shoulder weapon in existance. Despite having a long charging period, each bolt, if aimed correctly, can almost guarantee a kill on an unarmored target, regardless of species. A running theory is that Mars has traditionally viewed its footsoldiers as expendable. Therefore, eliminating survivability and cost as a factor, plasma weapons make the most logical sense.
Special thanks to Gadget for this information.