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.