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Security force field, 2364

A security force field

A force field is an energy barrier with many applications and varying degrees of strength.

Composition and use[]

Although force fields had been in use for many years, Starfleet did not begin research on such a device until around 2147, then referred to by Malcolm Reed as a "stable EM barrier." By about 2152, Starfleet hadn't found a method of controlling the particle density of the field. Reed nonetheless made use of such a barrier to save several crew members, including Jonathan Archer. (ENT: "Vox Sola")

The fact that Starfleet had been struggling to determine how to control the force field's particle density was not scripted. Also, although Reed states these efforts had been ongoing for the past five years prior to the setting of "Vox Sola", the episode's final draft script leaves this as an indeterminate number of years instead.

From the Star Trek Encyclopedia, 4th ed., vol. 1, p. 280, "Malcolm's force field emitters were devised by Star Trek: Enterprise property master Craig Binkley. If you look closely at the props, you might notice that they have four energy emitter gizmos that bear a striking resemblance to Lieutenant Uhura's earpiece receivers from the original Star Trek series. Purely coincedental, of course."

By the 24th century, Starfleet force fields were commonplace and were rated by intensity, ranging in strength from levels 1 through 10. A level 10 force field was the strongest and was used, for example, during a scientific experiment of which the outcome was unknown, or known to be explosive in nature. Applications ranged from creating holograms to sealing a hull breach to personal force fields designed to keep potential assailants at bay. (TNG: "Realm Of Fear", "The Most Toys"; Star Trek Generations; Star Trek: Insurrection; DS9: "Playing God", "Starship Down", "Take Me Out to the Holosuite"; VOY: "State of Flux", "Course: Oblivion")

During pre-production of Star Trek: The Next Generation, a type of device called a "landing envelope" would have placed "a protective power field envelope around a person or landing party, allowing away teams to visit planets with much more hostile environments than was possible in the past." The reference book Star Trek: The Next Generation 365 (p. 004) hypothesizes that the exclusion of this concept from the series may have been due to the strain it would have put on both the effects budget and, by lowering the amount of peril typically encountered on away missions, the writing staff. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 004)

Sisko forcefield

Joran Dax in control of Benjamin Sisko bangs his head against a force field

The effects of a force field on its surroundings varied greatly. Contact with a force field could cause anything from a slight tingle to death. Most force fields were non-lethal, although some civilizations such as the Dominion preferred the lethal variety. If a force field was active, an object or transporter beam generally could not pass through it, although this was not always the case. The Borg were known to not be hindered by most force fields; they could adapt and simply walk through the field. This was effected by having the cranial implant activate particular nanoprobes to adjust the drone's bioelectric field. However, a Borg drone could be cut off from the Collective if it was surrounded by a Starfleet level 10 force field. (DS9: "The Jem'Hadar"; TNG: "I Borg"; VOY: "Hope and Fear")

Force fields could be activated from various locations. On Starfleet starships there were emitter points at almost every junction along every corridor. The computer could be programmed to run a series of force field activations and deactivations within the ship, effectively creating a protected corridor which could follow a person. Commander Data used this technique with great control when he commandeered the USS Enterprise-D on stardate 44085.7. He also demonstrated another technique involving instructing the computer to implement a scan series of force field activations, initiated by his movements along a short distance of corridor, thus forcing the security team to back away from him. (TNG: "Brothers")

Soran's forcefield, Veridian III

Tolian Soran's large force field active on Veridian III

If part of a humanoid body was caught in a force field while it was activated, the person could suffer second-degree burns on the affected area. (DS9: "Civil Defense")

Tolian Soran's force field on Veridian III generated an output of fifty gigawatts. (Star Trek Generations)

When various security measures left over from the Cardassian occupation came on-line on Deep Space 9, Elim Garak was recognized as a person of sufficient importance by the computer to have the force fields dividing the station drop when he approached. (DS9: "Civil Defense")

If necessary, a transporter platform could be completely enclosed within a force field, to, for example, contain an alien subject or prisoner during transport. (TNG: "The Hunted", "Realm Of Fear"; VOY: "Death Wish", "Demon")

Hole in prison force fields

Selective positioning in effect

Force fields were also capable of selective positioning, allowing the majority of it to cover a secure location, while a smaller portion was deactivated to allow transport of food, drinks, and other items. This method was used when it would be considered dangerous to deactivate the entire force field. (VOY: "Repentance")

Types of force fields[]

Cadderon force field[]

Cadderon force field

A cadderon force field

In 2369, Major Kira Nerys created cadderon force fields to arrest the Klaestrons who kidnapped Jadzia Dax and secured the airlock to their starship. Ilon Tandro was able to override the system and deactivate the cadderon force field. (DS9: "Dax")

Containment field[]

Sovereign Engineering

A warp core containment field

Containment field strength PADD

In the mirror universe, shooting at a containment field can weaken it to the point of collapse in a matter of seconds.

A containment field, also known as a spatial distortion field, was essentially a force field used to prevent the escape of matter or antimatter.

Containment fields were usually raised when cargo bay or shuttlebay doors were opened to keep them pressurized, although the containment field was partially disengaged when a shuttlecraft passed through it. Unfortunately, eighteen engineers from the crew of the USS Yamato were killed when the containment fields in a shuttlebay failed after the ship was infected with an Iconian software transmission. (TNG: "Contagion") A containment field could be manually activated and deactivated should the need arise. (TNG: "Disaster") Containment fields would be used by Starfleet personnel to isolate an area for investigation, such as using a field to isolate a transporter room pad to beam aboard a sample of an object. (VOY: "Death Wish")

Containment fields could also be used to reinforce antimatter containment, although they could not prevent an impending warp core breach. Lieutenant Commander Data raised a level 3 containment field around the warp core of the Enterprise-D in 2369 when the ship was facing destruction by a core breach. (TNG: "Timescape") By 2379, it was a standard procedure on the USS Enterprise-E for the warp core to be reinforced by a high-level force field before engaging in battle. (Star Trek Nemesis)

In an alternate timeline Miles O'Brien tried to create a sort of a containment field in sickbay to retain Benjamin Sisko on the station. He was unable to and Sisko went into the temporal displacement again. (DS9: "The Visitor")

Structural integrity and emergency force fields[]

Containment field

An emergency force field

Jadzia Dax walks across force field

Jadzia Dax walks across an emergency force field

The structural integrity of a starbase, starship, or shuttlecraft could be enhanced by force fields. This way the hull could absorb more mechanical stress.

In the event of an outer hull breach, emergency force fields were automatically deployed to protect the damaged part from the influences of space; at the same time they prevented decompression of the entire deck by keeping the atmosphere in. During critical situations, such as ship-to-ship battles, if the main defensive force field was ruptured and a section of the ship was destroyed, it took longer for the computer to re-establish the structural integrity field than usual because of the large energy demands already placed on the vessel. In this short space of time, sections of a vessel could indeed be exposed to the vacuum of space. Captain Kirk was lost to the vacuum of space in this way, in 2293, when the USS Enterprise-B was struck by the Nexus energy ribbon. (Star Trek Generations)

A lieutenant aboard the Enterprise-E was blown out into space in 2379 before an emergency force field could be activated when the bridge front wall and viewscreen were destroyed by the Reman warbird Scimitar. (Star Trek Nemesis) A similar incident happened during the "Year of Hell" when an alien ship was disabled by the Krenim timeship's conventional weapons, and collided with the almost-already-crippled USS Voyager's bridge front/viewscreen and portions of her decks. Fortunately, Captain Janeway was not blown out into space, due to the quick activation of the emergency atmospheric force fields. (VOY: "Year of Hell, Part II")

A plasma leak caused by an explosion on the USS Defiant was covered by a level 8 force field, which Jadzia Dax then walked across in order to tend to Dr. Lenara Kahn. (DS9: "Rejoined")

On stardate 49263.5, the USS Defiant, under the command of Captain Benjamin Sisko, descended into the atmosphere of a Class J gas giant with 10,000 kilometer per hour wind speeds. The emergency force field that was erected to save the ship from decompression due to a hull breach was not able to withstand the pressure for more than a few minutes. (DS9: "Starship Down")

Defensive shielding[]

Voyager shields

Defensive force field shielding

Starbases, starships, shuttlecraft, and even advanced weaponry were often equipped with external force field emitters, which, when activated, produced a "bubble" around the generating object, known as defensive shields. (VOY: "Dreadnought", "Warhead") These shields were variable, and could even be extended to encompass a nearby vessel or object. (TNG: "The Defector") Defensive force fields could be penetrated in two ways. The most conventional method involved firing energy weapons at the shielded object, which weakened the field. The other method was achieved by matching the frequency of the shield to the weapon used. (Star Trek Generations; VOY: "Equinox, Part II") Chroniton torpedoes could not be stopped by normal shielding but required modifications to enable temporal shielding. (VOY: "Year of Hell")

Security screen []

A security screen (also referred to as a security cover or security force field) was a type of force field employed by the Federation that surrounded the Tantalus Penal Colony. In addition to standard force field features, this security screen was also capable of blocking ship-to-shore communications, preventing contact between the colony, which was situated on planet Tantalus V, and nearby spacecraft. The security screen could be deactivated with a control that was in the office of the colony's director. Furthermore, the words "security screen" were visible on a wall of the colony's main power chamber, from where the force field could also be turned off.

These words were instead scripted to read "force field".

While Captain James T. Kirk was visiting Tantalus colony in 2266, the security screen blocked contact between a communicator he had with him and the USS Enterprise, which was orbiting the planet. After Doctor Tristan Adams (the colony's director at that time) informed Kirk that the security screen was in effect, Adams temporarily turned off the force field, permitting Kirk to contact the Enterprise.

Later, shortly after Spock beamed into the colony, he deactivated the security screen from the main power chamber. He then contacted the Enterprise, with a communicator of his own, to report that the security screen had been eliminated. (TOS: "Dagger of the Mind")

Other applications[]

Federation applications[]

EMH (Enterprise-E)

The EMH Mark I

On holodecks, force fields were used to give objects substance so people could manipulate them like in real life. These force fields had no substance outside the holodeck. They could be configured to either allow passage of "real" matter, or appear solid.

In sickbay, a force field could be used to separate a patient from the rest of the crew when a contagious disease was diagnosed or when a patient needed a specific environment to stay alive. (TNG: "Brothers"; VOY: "Demon", "Threshold")

The Emergency Medical Hologram and other variants (Emergency Command Hologram and the slave Mark I) used force fields to mimic solidity and to allow the manipulation of tools, manual computer access, and for social interaction.

Force fields were used to contain prisoners inside the holding cells of various races, including Humans, Klingons, and Cardassians. Cardassian technology was able to create a tubular force field from the ceiling to the floor in order to encompass an intruder; however, during first contact with the Dominion, Jem'Hadar such as Talak'talan could walk right through them. The Federation had adapted similar technology by 2366, and it was in use on the bridge of the Enterprise-D as well. (DS9: "The Jem'Hadar"; TNG: "Allegiance")

Most Federation penal colonies had force fields to prevent escape. Examples included the Tantalus Colony (where it was known as a security screen) and the Elba II asylum. (TOS: "Dagger of the Mind", "Whom Gods Destroy")

During emergencies in a Starfleet holodeck, a holographic force field could be created during a simulation. (VOY: "Twisted")

Captain Kirk attempted to use a force field to confine Charles Evans to quarters, in 2266. Once the force field was rigged to the room's door and Evans entered his quarters, the force field was activated by Spock. When Evans then walked to the door, he was thrown backwards, onto the deck, by the force field. However, it was subsequently made to vanish, along with the bulkhead containing it, by Evans, who thereby managed to easily escape. (TOS: "Charlie X")

In the final draft script of "Charlie X", contact with this force field was described as producing "blue sparks of energy" that "instantly outline his body, [and] fling him back into the room." However, no such blue sparks are shown in the final version of the episode, despite collision with the force field clearly throwing Evans back. Also, in scripted but ultimately unused dialogue, it was established that preparing the force field took a minimum of seventy-two hours, that the force field was on deck five, and that setting it up made use of the ship's lab circuitry (all of which, according to the script, ran through the main corridor on deck five).

In 2369, Major Kira Nerys used a force field to prevent Chief Miles O'Brien and Commander Benjamin Sisko from beaming onto the Valerian transport. (DS9: "Dramatis Personae")

The same year, the Bajoran engineer Neela created the program ANA, which granted her access through the security fields on Deep Space 9 after she attempted to assassinate Vedek Bareil Antos. O'Brien found this computer program in a security field subsystem during maintenance work. (DS9: "In the Hands of the Prophets")

In 2372, Admiral Leyton told Federation President Jaresh-Inyo that Starfleet Security had been stockpiling personal force fields on Earth in case of a planet-wide emergency. (DS9: "Homefront")

By 2373, a holo-projection system had been installed on the bridge of the USS Defiant, linked up to the communications system. In this way, a person could 'appear' and speak to others. However, this form of holoprojection had no cohesion, and so people could not interact directly with the hologram. (DS9: "For the Uniform") Holoprojectors of this type were also seen in the captain's office adjacent to Ops aboard space station Deep Space 9. (DS9: "Doctor Bashir, I Presume")

Spacehatch force field

A force field closing a hatch

Jean-Luc Picard demonstrated to Lily Sloane a force field closing a hatch to space aboard the USS Enterprise-E when Lily spotted no glass. (Star Trek: First Contact)

During the late 2260s and early 2270s, a device known as a life support belt was used on board Starfleet vessels. This was a type of personal force field that supplied the wearer with the appropriate atmosphere and protected them from the vacuum of space. (TAS: "Beyond the Farthest Star", "The Slaver Weapon") This type of technology has only been seen in one other application. In 2369, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Commander Data, Deanna Troi, and Geordi La Forge used subspace isolation fields, projected from modified emergency transporter armbands, that enveloped each of them in their own pocket of subspace. This isolated them from the effects of the temporal fragment that affected the Enterprise-D. This is an example of a "skin-tight" force field, rather than the conventional bubble geometry. (TNG: "Timescape")

Non-Federation applications[]

Quark Sisko and Eris

Quark, Sisko, and Eris inside a Dominion force field

Paris cannot stop 7 of 9

Seven of Nine protected by her personal shield

Shield Modulation

A Borg force field could be bypassed by remodulating a personal bio-dampener

On the Akaali homeworld in 2151, Captain Jonathan Archer and Commander Charles Tucker III, while secretly watched by Riaan, encountered a Malurian force field covering a wooden door. When touched, the force field flashed with blue light. Tucker reported that the force field was "some kind of magnetic barrier", and he was about to try to disable it when Riaan intervened. The force field was operated via remote control, and once Archer obtained the device from a Malurian, he deactivated the force field. (ENT: "Civilization")

In 2154, Enterprise encountered an Illyrian ship in the vicinity of the Azati Prime system in the Delphic Expanse. This small ship had a force field surrounding its warp coil, which prevented Commander Tucker from removing it easily. (ENT: "Damage")

In 2267, Apollo, from Pollux IV, used advanced force field technologies to create a gigantic hand to hold the Enterprise in space. This force field could be penetrated by M-rays at carefully calculated frequencies. (TOS: "Who Mourns for Adonais?")

In 2346, the Khitomer colony had a force field to help protect itself from attacks. The Khitomer Massacre could have been averted if the Klingon traitor Ja'rod had not given the Romulans the codes to the force field surrounding the colony. (TNG: "Sins of The Father")

In 2364, the entity known as Q used an immensely powerful force field to block the Enterprise's passage. (TNG: "Hide And Q")

Also in 2364, the Enterprise-D rediscovered the planet Aldea. The Aldeans hid their planet behind a very powerful planet-wide cloak and a defensive shield. (TNG: "When The Bough Breaks")

In the same year, the crew of the Enterprise-D encountered the Echo Papa 607 weapon on Minos. One of the weapon's special features was the ability to encase a target in a bubble force field. (TNG: "The Arsenal of Freedom")

In 2367, Captain Picard, Ensign Wesley Crusher, and a civilian shuttle captain, Dirgo, discovered a fountain of water surrounded by a force field on Lambda Paz. (TNG: "Final Mission")

The storage lockers in the assay office aboard Deep Space 9 were secured by individual force fields. (DS9: "Q-Less")

Dr. Tolian Soran used a high-power force field (rated in gigawatts) to protect himself and his star-destroying weapon from Captain Picard in 2371. (Star Trek Generations)

Borg force field, 2153

Borg force fields protecting the drones

The Borg utilized personal defensive force fields. The force field was sufficient to allow survival in space without a spacesuit. When in combat, Borg drones could be killed by phasers but only for the first several shots. The phaser became ineffective if used at the same setting after multiple shots. The phaser's effectiveness could be extended though by adding a frequency modulation chip, but drones would eventually adapt to this as well. (TNG: "Q Who", "The Best of Both Worlds", "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II"; VOY: "Drone") While Borg force fields were formidable against directed energy, they were capable of being bypassed by blunt force, kinetic energy. Projectile weapons were notoriously efficient against their shields. (citation needededit)

The Cardassians utilized force fields in their labor camps to maintain the populace. The Hutet labor camp utilized such force fields. (DS9: "The Homecoming")

Contact with Dominion force fields is always lethal and they are even harder to see than those of the Federation, which are visible to the careful eye. Captain Sisko and Quark were held in a Dominion force field when they were kidnapped while on a camping trip with Jake and Nog. A similar force field was used to hold Chief O'Brien and Doctor Bashir hostage when they were taken prisoner by a rogue group of Jem'Hadar. (DS9: "The Jem'Hadar", "Hippocratic Oath")

The Hur'q used a force field to protect the Hur'q Central Museum from looters. A Vulcan mining team could not penetrate the field. However, in 2372, Kor, Jadzia Dax, and Worf were able to bypass the force field by reversing the polarity on the field destabilizers.

The Vidiians made extensive use of force fields to conceal their underground bases from intruders, making entrances appear like solid rock, even to tricorders. This was described as a cloaking effect. Upon first encountering this technology in 2371, the USS Voyager found that phaser fire could breach them. However, when they encountered such fields a second time later that year, they found them to have been adapted to repulse phaser fire. (VOY: "Phage", "Faces")

When the Cardassian Silaran Prin held Kira Nerys prisoner for a brief time, he enclosed her in a personal force field of sorts that prevented her from moving. (DS9: "The Darkness and the Light")

By 2373, the Breen had developed a hand-held weapon, the CRM 114, which could penetrate force fields of up to 4.6 gigajoules. (DS9: "Business as Usual")


Appearances and references[]

The first appearance of a force field was in the TOS episode "Charlie X".

See also[]

External links[]

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