QCD: quantum chromo-dynamics

Significant amounts of technology were recovered from downed extra-terrestrial craft by the US Military, although most is so advanced that little progress has been made on reverse-engineering or even understanding much of it. 

The most significant progress with extra-terrestrial (or "captured") technology has been with quantum chromodynamics (QCD), which involves quantum-level manipulation of materials. QCD techniques allow the creation of room-temperature superconductors capable of generating extremely powerful fields in a variety of forms.

magnetic fields

Magnetic fields generated by superconducting electromagnets are used to contain and control plasma in fusion reactors and megnetoplasma rocket engines (such as the vessel's main engines). These fields are also crucial to the impulse acceleration used in the MRE engines.

The use of QCD superconductors in these electromagnets has significant advantages:

  • Less cooling required: traditional superconductors have to be maintained at very cold temperatures requiring elaborate cooling systems, otherwise they lose their superconducting characteristics. QCD materials retain their superconducting characteristics at room temperature, requiring significantly less cooling infrastructure.
  • More powerful magnetic fields: QCD superconductors are capable of producing significantly more powerful fields, allowing plasma to be contained under greater pressure than possible with traditional superconductors. This allows the creation and manipulation of plasma to be far more efficient, increasing the output of reactors and engines.

gravimetric fields

The generation of gravimetric fields to supply artificial gravity has been made possible by a particular class of QCD materials. The combination of low power-requirements and the ability to manipulate the fields allows the artificial gravity system to provide inertial dampening by constantly varying the pitch and intensity of the gravimetric fields generated relative to the vessel's acceleration.

spatial distortion fields

The generation of fields capable of distorting space-time is vital to achieving superluminal speeds.

Only the larger of the captured vessels contained these field generators (suggesting that the smaller vessels were "shuttles" from larger interstellar vessels). The technology used in these field generators has not been completely reverse-engineered, meaning that actual components from captured vessels are incorporated into vessel construction. This limits the number of interstellar-capable vessels that can be constructed until reverse engineering can be complete.

The ISDC has only one complete field generator, with research being conducted on components from another.