Lightsabers are iconic symbols of the Star Wars franchise. These elegant weapons are arguably the most powerful in the Star Wars universe, and they embody the skill, power, and connection of a Jedi to the Force.
At first glance, these energy swords seem like fairly simple pieces of equipment, with their sleek metal hilts and colourful blades, but on closer examination, it becomes obvious that lightsabers are quite sophisticated both in their designs and strength (structural integrity).
So, what is the structural integrity of a lightsaber? Well, to truly access this, we have to take into consideration the basic components of a lightsaber, what powers the weapon, and how the design and quality of these components affect the strength of the lightsaber. Keep reading for more.
What are the Basic Components of a Lightsaber?
As the chosen weapon of both the Jedi and the Sith, lightsabers are made up of three basic components (parts): the hilt, the emitter, and the blade.
The Hilt– This basic, all-encompassing part of the lightsaber serves as the weapon’s handle. Its outer casing is where the saber’s handgrip, emitter, activator switch, and other controls are placed. Within the hilt, the saber’s power source (Kyber crystal and power cell) and electronics (focusing lens, emitter matrix) work to produce its distinctive energy blade.
The Emitter– Positioned at the end of the hilt, a lightsaber’s blade emitter is the part that projects the plasma blade from the saber’s hilt. Its interior contains energy modulation circuits that control the amount (and intensity) of plasma that makes up the blade and a magnetic stabilising ring that controls blade length.
The exterior part of the emitter is the emitter plate (a superconducting metal) from which the blade emerges. This plate can be either recessed into the hilt’s casing or flushed with the end.
The Blade- This is the plasma blade that emerges from the lightsaber’s hilt. It is usually powered by a kyber crystal, which also determines its colour. In Star Wars canon, there are 8 known lightsaber blade colours, although blue, green, and red are the most common. The different lightsaber colour meanings include; blue for justice, truth, stability, and a strong physical connection to the Force; green for harmony, goodwill, growth, and nature; red for greed, anger, power, and hatred; purple for nobility, moral ambiguity, and wisdom; yellow for hope, warmth, and piousness; orange for creativity and ambition; white for purity and force neutrality, and black which symbolises mystery and power.
What Powers a Lightsaber?
At the heart of every lightsaber hilt lies a kyber crystal that powers it. These kyber crystals are rare, colourless Force-imbued gems that are found on Force-rich planets like Ilum and Lothal. To construct their lightsabers, the Jedi and other Force-users would travel to these Force-rich planets to find kyber crystals. Once found, the Force-user would have to attune the crystal with the Force. This bonds the crystal to the Force-user and changes its colour.
After obtaining a kyber crystal, the Force-user then uses it in conjunction with the power cell or energy core to power their weapon. The power cell (diatium power cell) is the component that allows the kyber crystal to produce a lightsaber’s plasma blade. The kyber crystal essentially amplifies and focuses the energy generated by the lightsaber’s power cell to create its powerful blade.
The Strength/Structural Integrity of a Lightsaber
A lightsaber could not be what it is without its kyber crystal and its power cell (energy core). It is both of these components that work together to create the lightsaber’s plasma blade. The power cell generates energy, which the kyber crystal then focuses and amplifies to produce a powerful plasma blade.
This plasma blade is so powerful that it can cut through almost every known material with the exception of other lightsabers and a few lightsaber-resistant materials. The incredible cutting power of a lightsaber’s blade can be seen when Qui-Gon Jinn almost successfully cuts through Saak’ak’s metal blast doors with his weapon.
The heat from the blade is so powerful that even when a lightsaber is used to sever a body part (usually an arm), there is barely any blood. This is because the blade’s heat cauterizes the wound as it passes.
A lightsaber’s hilt design is another factor that contributes to its structural integrity. It is the part that holds and protects the saber’s kyber crystal and power source. It also houses the components that control the lightsaber blade, such as the focusing lens and the emitter.
A poor hilt design can, in many cases, cause a lightsaber to malfunction, so it is very crucial that a lightsaber’s hilt is crafted from only strong and durable materials. The Jedi often preferred to use metals because of how mouldable, strong, and durable they are. Other materials like Phrik and the wood from a Bylark tree have also been used by some Jedi for their lightsaber hilts.
The structural integrity of a lightsaber is something that relies heavily on its basic components (hilt, emitter, and blade), its power source (kyber crystal and power cell), construction, and the quality of materials used. The perfect combination of all these elements is what produces the iconic laser sword that we all know and love.