Thursday, October 26, 2006

Inventors transform 300 microwave ovens into the Megawatt Beam of Death

Category: Tech
Idea: Microwave-oven gun

You can do a lot of damage with a directed beam of microwave energy. It can destroy electronics by inducing high voltages in chips and wires (just as metal objects spark if left in a microwave oven). Such a beam could also burn a person's skin, or even detonate improvised explosive devices by exciting unstable chemicals.

A megawatt magnetron is normally needed to make the beam, though, and these are big and expensive beasts that need water cooling.

However, two inventors from Albuquerque, New Mexico in the US, reckon there is cheaper way to get the power. Simply gather together a stack of magnetrons ripped out of consumer microwave ovens, and lock their output together so that they combine into one coherent beam. What is more, they say, the trick can be done mechanically.

Microwave magnetrons come with a tube-shaped component that controls the output signal. The idea is to arrange a dozen or so side by side and have a small metal plate in front that reflects some of the energy from each tube back into the mouth of adjacent ones. This should make all the magnetrons resonate in synchronisation, the inventors reckon. Three hundred consumer devices, rated at 1 kilowatt each, could combine to generate megawatt pulses from the back of a mobile generator.

The only puzzle is why the US government Patent Office has published an application that might explain to anyone, including terrorists, how to build such a weapon.

Read the full microwave oven gun patent application.

Microwave Engineering