According to the Memory Alpha article on phasers, they work by releasing a beam of subatomic particles called "rapid nadions", which are then refracted ("rectified") through superconducting crystals. Think advanced particle beam laser.

This being the case, shouldn't a mirror be a good defense against phaser fire?

  • @SJuan76 -I don't know, that's why I ask the techies and Trekies here. The description of how "rapid nadions" are directed is by refraction through a crystal within the phaser unit is what prompted my question. – Morgan May 28 '14 at 20:20
  • Some sort of dispersion or diffusion shielding or armor would be more effective, as it would distribute the energy of the phaser beam over a wider area. This was a positive point of the ablative armor seen on the Defiant over the standard hull/armor most other Starfleet vessels had. – Xantec May 28 '14 at 20:26
  • A mirror is nothing more than a piece of glass with either a true silver compound or aluminum oxide adhered to the surface (either back or front depending on intended use). Would a window with a soda can behind it stop a phaser beam? – JohnP May 29 '14 at 14:29

There is at least one canon reference to a phaser beam being blocked by a substance with mirror-like qualities in the Voyager episode "Phage".

Voyager Phage

Under normal circumstances this shouldn't work (even in the real world a mirror would be largely ineffective against a moderately powerful laser due to the imperfections on the glass and the absorbency of the silver material) but because these walls can "reflect directed energy" it somehow seems to work.

TUVOK: The phaser beam would ricochet along an unpredictable path, possibly impacting our ship in the process.

JANEWAY: All right, we won't try that.

CHAKOTAY: Well, maybe we should. Tuvok, what would happen if we reduced the phaser power level to a minimum setting and sent out a continuous beam.

TUVOK: The phaser would continue to reflect off the bulkheads until it encountered a non-reflective material.

CHAKOTAY: Until it encountered a non-reflective material, like the real alien ship.

Moving waaaaay down the canon, the only other mention of silvered armor or a reflective hull in a trek property seems to be in the Star Trek Online game. One of the MACO shield upgrades creates a reflective surface.

  • That's interesting... – Morgan May 28 '14 at 21:02
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    It's looking like phaser beams can in fact be refracted/deflected/reflected but it takes more than a simple mirror to do it. – Morgan May 28 '14 at 23:09
  • @Morgan - I've found no in-universe example of mirrored armor – Valorum May 28 '14 at 23:10
  • I seem to remember another example or two of phaser fire being refracted/deflected. Do you think you could have a look? As soon as you find it I will remember the episodes. – Morgan May 29 '14 at 0:54
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    As your quote points out they did reduce the phaser to a minimum level. Full power might not have reflected as effectively. – Xantec May 29 '14 at 12:48


Assuming that phaser beams consist of "rapid nadions" (I don't recall any canonical reference to these), there's no particular reason to think that a mirror, which reflects visible light, would have any particular effect on them.

And if mirrors could block phaser beams, then we'd see people wearing mirrored armor, and mirrored hulls on starships. We don't.

  • I think your last paragraph is a plot hole in the Star Trek universe! Good point. – Wikis May 29 '14 at 15:10
  • @Wikis: How is it a plot hole? We don't see mirrored armor because mirrors don't block phaser beams. It seems perfectly consistent to me. – Keith Thompson May 29 '14 at 16:16
  • I was referring to the mirrors in @Richard's answer. – Wikis May 29 '14 at 17:10

Sorry that I don't have the reference, but I once read a Star Trek story where a race of cat-like creatures attacked DS-9 and they had reflective armor and used projectile weapons which gave them a huge advantage over all surrounding races which had moved to energy weapons and shields.

[They also had an I'm-Down kind of device they triggered if wounded and it sent out a signal and created a time stasis bubble that lasted three days or something like that -- throwing them into the future three days where they would be easier to rescue. Rom (?) obtained one of these devices and not knowing what it did accidentally triggered it while trying to open it, bringing a response from the other race that destroyed the station. He eventually went back in time, to another time stream, and prevented the attack.]

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