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Electromagnetic Theory JULY 2008, Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department

Sunday, October 12, 2008


In 1925, the theory behind the E-bomb was proposed by physicist, Arthur H. Compton. He was not trying to build the weapon but just studying atoms. Compton was able to demonstrate that firing a stream of highly energetic photons into atoms that have a low atomic number causes them to eject a stream of electrons. His nuclear research led to an unexpected demonstration of the power and creation of a new type of weapon

The existence of this electromagnetic pulse has been known since the 1940’s.It was when the nuclear weapons were being developed and tested.However, the effects of an EMP bomb were not fully known until 1962 because of lack of data. At that time, the United States was conducting a series of high-altitude atmospheric tests named "Fishbowl” .The nuclear weapons designers ignited hydrogen bombs over the Pacific Ocean. The detonations created bursts of gamma rays. The gamma rays strike the oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere, released electrons that spread for hundreds of miles. As a result, street lights in Hawaii were blown out and radio navigation was disrupted for 18 hours, as far away as Australia. Then, the United States start to learn how to "harden" electronics against this electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and develop EMP weapons.

In 1963, the Atmospheric Test Ban Treaty was signed by the United States and Soviet Union to counter the possible threat imposed by electromagnetic pulses. Unfortunately, the destructive potential of an EMP increases everyday as society becomes evermore technological.

In 1991, the U.S. Navy used experimental E-bombs for the Gulf War. These bombs used warheads that converted the energy of conventional explosives into a pulse of radio energy.

In 1998, David Schriner, a former civilian electrical engineer for the US Navy, told the Congress that he spent $US500 to buy automobile ignition coils, batteries, fuel pumps and various used hardware in his basement to build an e-bomb. In one week, he built an e-bomb that could make a running car hiccup at 15 meters by overloading its electrical component. So, the Congress agreed to give Schriner a million-dollar contract to see if he could build a truly effective e-bomb out of readily available materials. This proves that an e-bomb is a lot easier to build than a nuclear bomb, and they don't have to be delivered by very high technology missiles.

In 2000, British scientists at Matra Bae Dynamics(British Defence Firm) developed a non-explosive artillery shell serving as an E-bomb that could destroy electrical and electronic systems for miles. This E-bomb uses radio frequencies to destroy enemy’s electronics.