Star Trek tech: Pentagon working on phasers

But there are more sophisticated weapons on the horizon. Take the Multimode Directed Energy Armament System (MDEAS) research project. If it works, it really will be phaser-esque — with both lethal and non-lethal settings. MDEAS relies on an ultrashort laser pulse (one measured in million millionth of a seconds) to create an ionized channel through the air. This channel can then be used to conduct a powerful electric shock to the target to stun or kill. The channel can also act as a waveguide for an intense pulse of microwave energy which can burn out electronics — useful for stopping vehicles and defeating roadside bombs. Even better, at least one version of the device will be portable enough for Kirk and company to carry around with them.