Optical Weapons

Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, or lasers as most know the technology by, has existed since before the AI Wars and weaponization of the technology occurred around that time as well. While early versions were larger and cumbersome, limited only to fixed positions or mounted onto large vehicles, it wouldn't be under around the year 400 TSC when a version of laser weaponry became small and compact enough to be useful on the battlefield.

The reason for this is that lasers by their very nature rely on the heating of an object with photons to do damage. This also means that the weapon itself can grow very hot with use, much quicker than any of the other various available weapon designs. Weapon effectiveness was also limited simply due to the fact that early designs relied upon beams in the range of visible light. Simply coating an object with a mirror finish would negate almost any effect a laser could have on it. This was changed with the creation of full-spectrum lasers that operated from microwave and infrared all the way to the upper limits of ultra-violet light as well as x-rays. For those worried about cancerous side effects from the higher energy photons it is a moot point as actually being hit by a modern laser would almost certainly vaporize most of the flesh in the area.

Newer designs have moved from a chemical energy (CE) cell to power a reusable lasing material to much more powerful mass energy (ME) cells along with a lasing material that vaporizes with each use. These newer designs are more robust as they don't need to rely on perfect maintenance of the lasing material to operate. Instead, magazines of smaller lasing material "shells" are loaded into the weapon and are destroyed and ejected after only one use. This eliminates the problem of heat cracking the material with extended use and more power can be cycled through the weapon without care.

While electromagnetic shielding can negate most of a laser's power it cannot do so for very long. Another advantage of laser weaponry comes with the fact that they have very low armor penetrating power for their overall destructiveness. This makes them an excellent choice for use on board of ships and space stations where the risk of puncturing the hull is very real. This lack of armor penetration, however, makes most designs completely useless against an armored target, though there are new innovations that are allowing for this issue to be overcome.

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