THE FUTURISTIC WEAPONS OFTEN SEEN IN MOVIES ARE NO LONGER COMPLETE FICTION
Futuristic weapons can be divided into two broad categories:
The first category is a beam weapon, where a directed energy is transmitted as electromagnetic radiation, particle beams of ions, or other subatomic projectiles. Development of the high efficiency laser diode makes possible a practical Ray gun where a matrix of these diodes can produce a collimated efficient electromagnetic beam of energy. Laser diodes are more efficient than other lasing mechanisms. They are easy to drive, power output per volume and weight is extremely low and they are not that costly. Beam conditioning is accomplished by the use of optical algorithms. This page will not go into the laser type futuristic weapon as this is a separate subject requiring more extensive and dedicated coverage. The technology for microwave beam and EMP devices has all been developed, and is now being designed for actual warfare should the need be necessary.
The second category is a kinetic weapon, involving railguns, coil guns and other electromagnetic- and plasma-propelled devices. The theoretical advantage of this type of a futuristic weapon is that the velocity of the projectile is not limited by the burning rate of a chemical propellant used by traditional kinetic weapons (firearms). Chemical propellants are limited to under 5000 m/s whereas a well constructed electrically-propelled gun can achieve five times that velocity if not more. The problem with this technology is that it requires large bulky power supplies, energy storage systems, power conditioning, triggering systems and of course the weapon itself must be able to handle fantastic amounts of mechanical and electrical stress. These are all being addressed by major research facilities.