Also known as a Phase Disruptor, these weapons are in common use throughout the alpha quadrant.2
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They follow the same basic principle as the Federation Phaser in that they cause the target to transition violently out of this continuum. But the Disruptor uses slow nadions rather than rapid nadions in generating the energy beam. This gives the disruptor a considerably lower energy conversion efficiency than the Starfleet phaser. This is partially offset by a moderate reduction in the size of the hardware required for the weapon itself - the space freed up by this allows a higher power weapon to be installed in the same space. The Federation phaser is therefore considered to be more sophisticated and generally more effective than the disruptor, which relies on brute power to overcome its efficiency failings.Like phasers, disruptor weapons can fire sustained beams or pulses depending on the exact configuration of the hardware.2
One major drawback to this type of weapon is that no user has been able to develop the efficiency of the system to a point where individual emitters can be linked via force coupling. This makes it virtually impossible to construct a linear disruptor array along the pattern of Starfleets phaser arrays. Since these weapons entered Federation service on board the Ambassador class there has been massive investment by the Klingons and Romulans to overcome this deficiency, but neither power has been able to field such a weapon. Recent warship designs by these two powers have instead concentrated on building ever larger and more powerful single emitter weapons, culminating in the two giant disruptor cannon fitted to the Klingon Negh'Var class. The linear phaser array thus remains a significant advantage for Starfleet.