Directed Energy Weapons

A directed-energy weapon (DEW) is a type of weapon that emits energy in an aimed direction without the means of a projectile. It transfers energy to a target for a desired effect. Some of these weapons are real or in development; others are at present only science fiction.

The energy can come in various forms:

  • Electromagnetic radiation (typically lasers or masers).
  • Particles with mass (particle beam weapons).
  • Sound (sonic weaponry)
  • Fire (flamethrowers)

In science fiction, these weapons are sometimes known as death rays or rayguns and are usually portrayed as projecting energy at a person or object to kill or destroy.

Some lethal directed-energy weapons are under active research and development, but most examples appear in science fiction (non-functional toys, film props or animation).

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