Chinese scientists have reportedly achieved a major milestone in directed energy technology by developing an energy shield designed to protect military assets from potentially harmful microwaves. The breakthrough, if true, represents a significant advancement in the ongoing aerial-to-anti-aerial arms race, as reported by the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

The energy shield, utilizing a special kind of plasma, aims to resist high-powered electromagnetic radiation, such as microwaves, that can pose a threat to modern technology, including military chips with special circuits. Microwaves can cause electrical interference and increase internal temperatures in sensitive electronics, necessitating effective shielding. The research team, led by Chen Zongsheng from the State Key Laboratory of Pulsed Power Laser Technology at the National University of Defence Technology, claims to have developed a “low-temperature plasma shield” capable of protecting sensitive circuits from electromagnetic weapon attacks up to 170kW at a distance of only 9.8 feet (3 meters).

The team ensured that their strategy adhered to fundamental laws of physics before practical implementation, emphasizing its low energy consumption to produce a stable layer of plasma. In a peer-reviewed paper published in the Journal of the National University of Defence Technology, Chen’s team revealed their motivation, citing pressure from the United States and the deployment of advanced equipment like the Active Denial System, Vigilant Eagle system, AGM-86 cruise missile with a high-power microwave warhead, and airspace blockade weapons.

Inspired by tai chi principles, the plasma-based energy shield takes a unique approach by using the energy of electromagnetic attacks for defense rather than directly countering them. When charged particles encounter attacking electromagnetic waves, they absorb the energy and become highly active. As the density of the plasma increases, it reflects most of the incoming energy like a mirror, creating an avalanche effect that overpowers penetrating waves. The thickness of the plasma contributes to the protective effect, and once the high-power microwave subsides, the plasma reverts to its original state.

The team acknowledges the challenges in achieving an effective response frequency for the energy shield that remains small, lightweight, and energy-efficient while withstanding powerful microwave attacks. Despite the need for further development, the shield’s potential applications extend beyond the military, offering protection against electromagnetic interference in various industries.

By Impact Lab