How to Build a Laser Death Ray

Hard X-Rays

The more energetic x-rays are called hard x-rays. These are fairly penetrating, capapble of going through several meters or tens of meters of air, and going through some 30 cm of human tissue to produce medical images.

It is very difficult to focus a hard x-ray beam. To focus light, you need optics that are smooth down to lengths as short as 1/3 the wavelength of the light. Hard x-rays, however, have a wavelength smaller than an atom. All matter is rough on this distance scale. Mirrors simply will not work, since the x-rays scatter randomly off the atomic cores rather than reflecting off a smooth surface. One method that should work is to use x-ray crystal diffraction to make a diffractive resonant cavity. By straining the diffraction crystals, you can shape the beam to focus where you want it. Then send the beam through an amplifier to get the very high intensities needed for a death ray. If you can focus such a beam, hard x-rays are the ideal choice for space combat, because you can't get any shorter wavelength that you have any chance of focusing. A diffraction limited beam of hard x-rays could be focused to lethal intensities at distances of over a light second.

Because hard x-rays are penetrating ionizing radiation, they can be used to kill unshielded targets without burning or blassting them. The radiation can damage electronics and kill people without causing material harm. However, most spacecraft will be shielded against solar and cosmic radiation, limiting the usefulness of this damage mechanism. Still, you can use the x-ray death beam to drill holes through your target.

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