Non-lethal beam weapon with 2km range

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From: Jay Gooby (
Date: Wed Dec 06 2000 - 09:59:35 PST as reported in SJ Mercury


HSV Technologies Inc., of San Diego, California is developing a non-lethal weapon that uses ultraviolet laser beams to harmlessly immobilize people and animals at a distance. The Phaser-like device uses two beams of UV radiation to ionize paths in the air along which electrical current is conducted to and from the target. In effect, the beams create wires through the atmosphere wherever they are pointed.

The current within these beams is a close replication of the neuro-electric impulses that control skeletal muscles. It is imperceptible to the target person because it differs from his own neural impulses only in that its repetition rate is sufficiently rapid to tetanize muscle tissue. (Tetanization is the stimulation of muscle fibers at a frequency which merges their individual contractions into a single sustained contraction.)

No retinal damage can occur because the cornea absorbs all ultraviolet radiation at the wavelengths used. Moreover, the beams are too weak to produce photokeratitis (corneal inflammation) unless they are directed at the eyes for several minutes. In addition, the current they transmit is insufficient to affect the smooth muscles such as the heart and diaphragm. See Ocular Safety of the Tetanizing Beam Weapon []

Our electrical beam weapon has a far longer potential range than its nearest competitor, the wire-based Taser® .

Successful proof-of-principle tests have been performed at the University of California at San Diego, and further refinements using novel laser designs are forthcoming.

Although the smallest laser now available for this application is the size of a carry-on suitcase, a hand-held version should become feasible with only modest advances in laser technology.

Also under development is an engine-disabling variation for use against the electronic ignitions of automobiles. The engine-disabling version should be able to operate with off-the-shelf lasers because it would be carried aboard police patrol cars.

See US Patent #5,675,103 The interested reader is directed to the following articles: Max Glaskin The Ministry of Defence is looking at a new weapon that could immobilise gunmen, The Sunday Times, Inovations, Sunday May 9, 1999. Hand, A. J., UV lasers stop people in their tracks, Photonics Spectra, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp. 32-33, January 1999. David Mulholland, Laser Device May Provide U.S. Military Nonlethal Option, Staff writer, Defense News, June 14, 1999, Page 6, Copyright, The Army Times Publishing Company. Owen, G. P., Directed energy weapons, a historical perspective, Journal of Defence Science, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 89-93, 1997. Lamabares, A., et al., Absorption spectra of corneas in the far ultraviolet region, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, Vol. 38, No. 6, pp. 1283-1287, 1997. Pasternak, D., Wonder weapons, U.S. News & World Report, July 7, 1997, pp. 38-46. -- Future Platforms :: Internet services for consumer devices +44 (0) 7956 182625

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