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I was driving home from work when at a stop light I imagined someone coming up to my car with a gun with the intent of trying to get me to unlock the door so they could steal the car.

I went on to imagine me pulling out a Type 1 "Cricket"-style phaser and stunning them with it.

This got me thinking that I've never seen a phaser fired though glass. Is this ever shown in an episode? Is a phaser similar enough to a laser that it would be able do do something like this, or would it shatter the glass before continuing on?

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    My impression is that has always been more towards the "heavier" end of the energy spectrum and would most likely shatter the glass if it were shot through a window. However, it is an intriguing concept and I'm curious if there is a more science based answer that could provide greater insight. – BBlake Jan 19 '12 at 16:27
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    In The Cage a hand phaser blasted a hole in the transparent wall of the cell. But there is no evidence that that wall was made of glass, and considering its other properties it most likely was not. – Xantec Jan 19 '12 at 16:48
  • As Picard demonstrated in First Contact, phasers can certainly penetrate glass. :) – Brian Ortiz Jan 20 '12 at 20:23
15

From Memory Alpha:

Most phasers are classified as particle weapons and fire nadion particle beams, (VOY: "Time and Again") but some like the Ferengi hand-phaser are classified as plasma weapons and fire forced plasma beams.

So [most] phasers are particle weapons (this actually explains somewhat why we can see them), and therefore can not go through glass (or transparent aluminum, which most transparent barriers are probably made of).

Since the particles don't go through the glass, they will damage it.

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    Worth noting is that the weapons WOULD still damage the glass - For instance, the Original Series pilot 'The Cage' featured a then-named laser that blasted a hole in a transparent wall. – Jeff Jan 19 '12 at 18:24
  • @Jeff I thought that would be implied by not going through it, but I've added it explicitly. – Kevin Jan 19 '12 at 19:00
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    "Particle beam" doesn't necessarily mean much. It would depend on the nature of the particles in question. Photons are particles, so a laser could be considered as a particle beam as well. – Compro01 Apr 17 '13 at 4:08

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