|Also Known As
|Carbon Nanotube Transistors, SIVA
Photothermic Powder, more commonly known as Stralix Powder (on Mata Nui) or Najin Dust (on Zakaz), is a powerful explosive. It is used as gunpowder for firearms on Zakaz. Despite the essential makeup of Najin dust and Stralix powder being the same, there remain subtle differences between the two.
Photothermic powder is made by separately grinding Heatstones and Lightstones into fine grains, and then mixing these together with charcoal or coal dust. It is black-grey in appearance, due to the crystals being covered in soot.
When a Heatstone and a Lightstone are held together, the Heatstone will give off greater heat, due to energy transfer from the Lightstone. If the crystals are powdered, however, then there is a much greater surface area for energy transfer, so more energy is transferred, much more quickly. This causes rapid expansion and ignition of the surrounding air: an explosion. This is known as the photothermic effect.
In Photothermic Powder, the crystal grains are coated in soot, which prevents the energy transfer. However, if the grains are compressed (by an impact, for example), then the soot is ground off to reveal the surfaces of the grains, which then cause an explosion. The same will happen if the grains come into contact with a naked flame.
Although it has been in common use on Zakaz and Seprilli for quite some time, it was unknown on Mata Nui until it was developed by the inventor Stralix, following which its manufacture and use have become widespread. As the ingredients are inexpensive, Photothermic Powder is cheaper to produce than traditional Madu gunpowder, and also safer and more effective than Madu Cabolo products.
Use In Firearms
Mata-Nui Stralix powder is very coarse compared the much finer Najin dust of Zakaz - this is one of the most significant challenges rendering Mata Nui unable to produce firearms. Countless scientists and engineers on Mata Nui have studied the foreign firearms in the hopes of being able to manufacture them and their ammunition, always ending in failure. Attempting to replicate the fineness of Najin dust (a process which is, in itself, tricky) leads to imperfect binding of the charcoal dust to the lightstone/heatstone grains - the thermic reaction is unimpeded by the looseness of the coating, making it essentially worthless as gunpowder.
A different approach, mixing the two crystal grains sans coating in-situ (like hypergolic fuels), has led to some successes; however, the various mechanisms devised to utilize this approach to produce firearms are all hilariously complex, wear incredibly quickly, and are prone to explosive failure. Some firework designs take advantage of this fuel-mixing approach, however.
Some have attempted to use the coarse Stralix powder for firearms, without replicating Najin dust. Unfortunately, this yields little ballistic power, as the same volume of powder has a much lower surface area compared to Najin. Scaling up the amount of Stralix powder to achieve the same performance as Zakazian firearms leads to ludicrous and impractical propellant-to-payload ratios. Additionally, the weaker charcoal binding of Mata-Nui Stralix powder makes it much less stable, as a great deal less impact force is needed to set it off compared to Najin, which requires an explosive primer. Handling Stralix-powder munitions is precarious enough as is - a single jam might be enough to set off a Stralix-powder cartridge prematurely and destroy its parent weapon.
Ultimately the fine crystal grind, coal binding process, and dozens of other subtleties of Najin dust remain techniques known only to Zakaz weaponsmiths.