As far as movie weapons go, the Star Wars lightsabers are among the deadliest and most iconic. These Force-imbued energy weapons of both the Jedi and the Sith are so incredibly powerful that they can cut through almost every known material.
The elegant designs and deadly efficiency of these swords have also made them a staple in both the original trilogy (Skywalker Saga) and the Star Wars expanded universe. However, one aspect of lightsabers that fans of the franchise have continued to scratch their heads about is their energy source and what the limits of a lightsaber’s energy are. Do lightsabers have limitless energy, or is there a finite amount?
This Padawan Outpost article attempts to answer these questions by taking a look at what powers a lightsaber and whether or not a saber’s energy is infinite.
What Powers a Lightsaber?
The basic design of a lightsaber consists of five main components: the hilt (casing), the power cell, the lightsaber crystal (kyber crystal), the focusing lens, and the blade emitter.
The kyber crystal (which makes up the core of every lightsaber) is the key component behind a lightsaber’s power. These rare force-imbued crystals are responsible for both the power and functionality (even the colour) of a lightsaber. They are inherently Force-attuned and have an unmatched ability to channel, amplify, and focus energy.
These kyber crystals can, however, only amplify and focus an existing energy and power source, which is provided by a power cell. This power cell is essentially the battery of the lightsaber, and in Star Wars, the Jedi made use of Diatium power cells (diatium power core) for their lightsabers. On activation, power from these diatium cells passes through a series of focusing lenses and converts raw energy into plasma which is then channeled through the saber’s kyber crystal and emitter matrix to create the blade.
How Powerful is a Lightsaber?
We already know that lightsabers are pretty powerful weapons, but just how powerful are they? In the Phantom Menace, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn nearly melts a hole in the metal blast doors of Gunray’s ship, a feat so impressive that a group of scientists estimated the saber’s power output to be around 6.96MW (only two orders short of magnitude smaller than the output from small nuclear generators) and Qui-Gon’s lightsaber isn’t even the most powerful in the Star Wars universe.
The intense heat generated by lightsabers allows them to cut through almost every material in the Star Wars universe with the exception of other lightsabers and a few rare materials like Beskar, Cortosis, Neuranium, Orbalisk, Amphistaff, Phrik, and Neuranium. They can also be used to deflect blaster bolts and other projectiles.
Power Drain or Eternal Flame: Do Lightsabers Have Infinite Energy?
According to the Star Wars lore, the energy source of a lightsaber is extremely efficient and long-lasting. The kyber crystal which channels the Force provides a highly sustainable source of power.
The diatium cell that powers a lightsaber can very slowly run out of energy. The good news, however, is that lightsabers don’t expend energy until they come in contact with solid objects, and when they do, they exchange an almost equal amount of energy with the source of impact, essentially recharging their diatium power cells.
Although lightsabers are able to recharge themselves naturally, tiny traces of power can be lost every time they are used, and this can eventually lead to their power being drained completely (as can be seen in the Legends novel Shatterpoint, where Windu’s lightsaber loses power mid-battle as a result of extensive usage). When this happens, recharging the lightsaber becomes necessary.
On average, a standard lightsaber can have a battery life of between 50-100 years, depending on its user and how well-built its power cell is.
The lightsaber is an incredibly powerful and fascinating weapon with a highly efficient and long-lasting power source. Powered by both a diatium power cell and a Force-imbued kyber crystal, this weapon can cut through almost every material in the Star Wars universe, but its energy is not infinite, and it does have limitations. It is also possible for a saber’s power to be drained from extensive usage.
Thankfully, lightsabers can recharge themselves naturally, and they can last anywhere from 50-100 years, with their longevity coming down to the construction and durability of their power cell and their owner’s skill.