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I am thinking of writing a story that is a remake/homage of classic Super Robot anime like Mazinger Z. Part of my idea is to make the main "heroic" robot as "realistic" as possible.

A common weapon of these robots were lasers shot from the "eyes" that would cause a target to explode in what looks like applied laser ablation In my research on such weapons I came across this article on a new, tiny particle accelerator the size of a silicon chip.

I find this interesting as I planed on using a Photon-intermediate direct energy conversion system to power the Mech. According to this study:

A two-step photon-intermediate technique for the production of electricity, chemicals or lasers in nuclear energy conversion

In addition to electric power, photolysis makes other product forms possible. These products include useful feedstock, or combustion chemicals, such as hydrogen and carbon monoxide, and excited molecular and atomic states, used for laser amplifiers or oscillators.

If I needed to explain how the weapon works, would I point to this? Would the weapon work like laser ablation?

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    $\begingroup$ Please fix the title: nowhere in the body of the question you ask about a particle accelerator $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Feb 19 at 6:45
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica "_ I came across this article on a new, tiny particle accelerator the size of a silicon chip._". The signal-to-noise ratio is poor, but not absent. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Feb 19 at 10:24
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    $\begingroup$ To the OP, though: you've been active on this site since mid 2019, and in all that time you haven't accepted a single answer on any of your questions. It would be nice for you to do that before asking new questions. If you don't know how to accept an answer, do say. If none of the answers are acceptable for a question, you need to clarify your question to say why they aren't acceptable, if you were hoping for better answers. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Feb 19 at 10:59
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    $\begingroup$ Your robot isn't acting like a walking particle accelerator, it contains a particle accelerator. $\endgroup$ – NomadMaker Feb 19 at 12:11
  • $\begingroup$ Free electron laser... then slap a label with the word in bold titled "particle accelerator on foot" ;D $\endgroup$ – user6760 Feb 19 at 12:26
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Is it possible to have a mecha act as a walking particle accelerator?

Yes, but it wouldn't make a very good weapon, for the most part.

The reasons for this are legion, and are covered on this site and others ad nauseam. The problem is that particle beams just don't make very good weapons because they are inefficient and short ranged due to a number of insurmountable issues that basically boil down to "nature abhors a plasma gun".

I came across this article on a new, tiny particle accelerator the size of a silicon chip.

It won't help you. The main problem with these kind of next-generation particle accelerators are their efficiencies which are low... much lower even than modern lasers. This isn't really a problem for research labs, but if you want to throw a death beam any distance and frazzle a tough target, it is a major obstacle.

Even if you did make a powerful enough plasma accelerator, you're still faced with the same problems as any other charged particle weapon.

If I needed to explain how the weapon works, would I point to this?

Doesn't seem necessary. Reactor provides power, gun eats power, produces pew pew.

Would the weapon work like laser ablation?

Probably not at all! What you have is a thing called attenuation, where an incoming particle incident on matter bounces off atoms in the target losing a little bit of its kinetic energy with each collision until it comes to a rest. This manifests as heating and disruption of molecular bonds and crystal structures some distance into the target, which should result in a cylinder or cone-shaped (depending on particle mass and velocity) region of melted or vapourised material. Surrounding material will be strongly irradiated.

Unless your particle beam is of stupendous power (and rest assured, it won't be, especially if you want to use it from something less than battleship sized and inside an atmosphere) the target won't go boom, alas.

A common weapon of these robots were lasers shot from the "eyes"

There's an additional problem here. Even used a fancy future super compact particle accelerator, you're still going to be hampered by trying to fit the whole assembly in the head. You could put it in the body and just put deflection and focussing magnets in the head instead, to turn the beam towards the enemy, but you're going to get additional bremmstrahlung losses which will manifest as additional radiation inside the head which is potentially bad news for equipment there.

What you should probably stick with are just boring old lasers. More efficient, easier and safer to use, easier to build turrets for. Laser ablation is exactly the sort of effect you should be looking for... Luke Campbell (who is an excellent source for all things laser death beam) refers to them as blasters due to the effect they would have on target material.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. Actually the PIDEC system works well for lasers as seen above. I wasn't exactly sure of the terminology hence why I though "particle accelerator" $\endgroup$ – Jacob Blaustein Apr 6 at 21:11
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Photon-intermediate direct energy conversion (PIDEC) is a scheme for direct conversion of nuclear power to electricity.

PIDEC process is somewhat similar[citation needed] to a concept of fluorescent light - as in the CFL, in the nuclear reactor the original type of energy generated is not useful to humans. CFL uses a fluorescent coating on the inside of the light bulb to convert that energy into visible spectrum of the light. PIDEC uses fluorescer (in the form of gas) surrounding nuclear fuel acting as photon producer - fluorescer gets excited by neutron emissions and in turn emits narrow band ultraviolet light. That light is then relatively easily converted into electricity by special photo-voltaic converter.

At best you are producing incoherent light, meaning that each photon will have its own frequency, direction of propagation and phase.

Laser light is instead characterized by photons having same frequency, same direction and same phase. That's how you can get effects like laser ablation.

If you instead use the produced electricity to power feed a powerful enough laser, that laser has nothing to do with PIDEC.

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  • $\begingroup$ FWIW, you could use radiation from a reactor as a pump source for a laser... that's not a million miles away from what PIDEC is, after all. The engineering is harder, the efficiencies are lower and the power density will be depressingly low but it isn't impossible. Nuclear bomb pumped lasers are an example of the technique that doesn't have to worry about safety or reuseability. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Feb 19 at 10:55
  • $\begingroup$ Here's a NASA paper on a reactor-pumped laser: Initial conceptual design study of self-critical nuclear pumped laser systems. Great if you want a CW laser, not so great for a practical weapon, though. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Feb 19 at 10:56
  • $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime PIDEC, which is what OP is asking, lacks the resonance selecting mean and the inverted medium to make it a laser. It is as far as a fluorescent light from a laser. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Feb 19 at 11:08
  • $\begingroup$ The narrow-band UV generated by PIDEC can be used as a pump source for a laser, but the underlying principle of "excite gas via fission products" can be used both to efficiently generate UV via a fluorescing gas or less efficiently generate a laser via an alternative gain medium. The underlying infrastructure is potentially amenable to both. But it doesn't matter, because they'd make poor weapons in either case. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Feb 19 at 11:12
  • $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime, I am looking for feasibility and application, "efficiency" can be ignored here since this is for a "super robot" $\endgroup$ – Jacob Blaustein Apr 6 at 21:13

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