The idea is for a gun that was manufactured by revolting mining colonists from existing mining lasers, as such a weapon would be easily procured from their own resources. The weapon itself would be similar to the LIPC weaponry being developed today, but it will be handheld (due to technology, science magic, or handwavium). The question I have is, in contrast to a regular laser rifle, would it still be effective in adverse atmospheric conditions, say, an ice planet or desert planet with light diffusing storms? What about a ship mounted weapon for space combat? If it is not theoretically practical to handle such a weapon today, assuming that the setting is in the far future with extreme technological advancements what would be a good workaround for such a disadvantage?
LIPC works by turning a gas along a line from you to the enemy into plasma by laser, then sending a powerful electric charge into the plasma. The plasma conducts better then the gas, so the charge follows the plasma channel and hits the enemy at the end.
- A gas like air is required. No use for this in space, unless you're passing through some gas cloud.
- Many small solid or solid-like objects like sand, snow or rain can deprive the laser beam of its power, dispersing it or absorbing its energy piece by piece. No plasma channel will form, can't be used.
- Ice planet shouldn't matter much by itself. A lot of energy is consumed by the process anyway. A couple dozen degrees more or less at the start shouldn't change it much. LIPC is basically an artificial directed lightning, and natural lighting can happen in the winter. Just as long as there's not enough snow to neutralize the lazer.
- Insulated/grounded targets have some degree of protection, but may suffer some damage, at least on the surface, because the energy hitting them is just big.
Rebels, of course, have to use what's available and just hope for a good weather. It probably allows them to deal with enemy armor or fortifications protected by mirrors or something else against conventional (at their age) laser attacks.
The main obstacle to make it hendheld today is power, just like with plain lasers. So a fusion reactor that you can build into the handle will certainly help. It also needs a controller that coordinates laser and electric discharge, and it still needs work today, but that's not a truly future tech.