An electromagnetic bomb or E-bomb is a weapon designed to disable electronics with an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) which can couple with electrical/electronic systems to produce damaging current and voltage surges.
The effects are usually not noticeable beyond the blast radius unless the device is nuclear or specifically designed to produce an electromagnetic pulse.
These weapons are not directly responsible for the loss of lives, but can disable some of the electronic systems on which industrialized nations are highly dependent.
Devices that are susceptible to EMP damage, from most to least vulnerable:
- Integrated circuits (ICs), CPUs, silicon chips.
- Vacuum tubes (also known as thermionic valves).
- Inductors, motors.
Transistor technology is likely to fail and old vacuum equipment survive. However, different types of transistors and ICs show different sensitivity to electromagnetism; bipolar ICs and transistors are much less sensitive than FETs and especially MOSFETs. To protect sensitive electronics, a Faraday cage must be placed around the item. Some makeshift Faraday cages have been suggested, such as aluminium or aluminum foil.
The electromagnetic pulse was first observed during high altitude nuclear weapon detonations.
Electromagnetic weapons are still mostly classified and research surrounding them is highly secret. Military speculators and experts generally think that E-bombs use explosively pumped flux compression generator technology as their power source.
According to some reports, the U.S. Navy used experimental E-bombs during the 1991 Gulf War. These bombs utilized warheads that converted the energy of conventional explosives into a pulse of radio energy. CBS News also reported that the U.S. dropped an E-bomb on Iraqi TV during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but this has not been confirmed.
The Soviet Union conducted significant research into producing nuclear weapons specially designed for upper atmospheric detonations, a decision that was later followed by the United States and the United Kingdom. Only the Soviets ultimately produced any significant quantity of such warheads, most of which were disarmed following the Reagan-era arms talks. EMP-specialized nuclear weapon designs belong to the third generation of nuclear weapons.
Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)