Particle beam

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A particle beam weapon hits a target with a stream of accelerated charged or neutral sub-atomic particles or atoms moving at very near the speed of light carrying tremendous kinetic energy. The particles transfer their kinetic energy to the atoms in the molecules of the target upon impact, swiftly superheating the target object causing an explosion either in the surface layer or the interior of the target. The total energy within the beam is the aggregate energy of the rapidly moving particles, each particle having kinetic energy due to its own mass and motion. In addition to the thermal effect, a paticle beam can also damage or disable electronic systems within the target.

  • The particles used to form the beam are electrons, protons, or hydrogen atoms.
    • In the case of hydrogen, the single electron and proton combine to form a neutrally charged atom.
    • A neutral particle beam weapon ionizes hydrogen gas by either stripping an electron off of each hydrogen atom, or by allowing each hydrogen atom to capture an extra electron. When hydrogen gains electrons it forms anions; when hydrogen atoms lose electrons they form cations. A particle beam weapon that accelerates anions uses a traveling wave type particle accelerator: the negative ions are released inside a cylindrical ion acceleration chamber with an electrode inside it providing an alternating electric charge of up to 109 volts.
  • A particle beam has a lower range than a laser. The beam expands the further it travels, reducing the damage density: self-repulsion occurs because all the particles in the beam have the same charge. Proton beams are preferred because protons are 1836 times more massive than electrons; a proton beam expands only 1/1836 times as fast as electron beams. However, it requires 1836 times as much power to accelerate the protons to the same velocity as the electrons.
  • A particle beam weapon requires maintenance after prolonged use: they can cake solid with particle flux.

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