List of Star Trek materials
This is a list of notable fictional materials from the science fiction universe of Star Trek. Like other aspects of stories in the franchise, some were recurring plot elements from one episode or series to another.
Metals for starship construction
The fictional metals duranium and tritanium were referred to in many episodes as extremely hard alloys used in starship hulls and hand-held tools. The planet-killer in "The Doomsday Machine" had a hull made of solid neutronium, which is capable of withstanding a starship's phasers. Neutronium is considered to be virtually indestructible; the only known way of stopping the planet-killer is to destroy it from the inside via the explosion of a starship's warp core.
Star Trek technical manuals indicate that transparent aluminum is used in various fittings in starships, including exterior ship portals and windows. It was notably mentioned in the 1986 film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Ultra-strong transparent panels were needed to construct water tanks within their ship's cargo bay for containing two humpback whales and hundreds of tons of water. However, the Enterprise crew, without money appropriate to the period, found it necessary to barter for the required materials. Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott exchanges the chemical formula for transparent aluminum for the needed material. When Dr. Leonard McCoy informs Scott that giving Dr. Nichols (Alex Henteloff) the formula is altering the future, the engineer responds, "Why? How do we know he didn't invent the thing?" (In the novelization of the film, Scott is aware that Dr. Marcus "Mark" Nichols, the Plexicorp scientist with whom he and McCoy deal, was its "inventor," and concludes that his giving of the formula is a predestination paradox/bootstrap paradox.) The substance is described as being as transparent as glass while possessing the strength and density of high-grade aluminum. It was also mentioned in Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "In Theory".
- Real-life transparent substances composed of some aluminum
An aluminum window pane, "of glasslike transparency" was reported from Germany in 1933.
Aluminum oxynitride ((AlN)x·(Al2O3)1−x) is a transparent ceramic which has a hardness of 7.7 Mohs, and has military applications as bullet-resistant armour, but is too expensive for widespread use. It was patented in 1986.
Pure transparent aluminum was created as a new state of matter by a team of scientists in 2009. A laser pulse removed an electron from every atom without disrupting the crystalline structure. However, the transparent state lasted for only 40 femtoseconds, until electrons returned to the material.
A group of scientists led by Ralf Röhlsberger at Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY), Hamburg, Germany, succeeded in turning iron transparent during research in 2012 to create quantum computers.
Trellium-D, shown in Star Trek: Enterprise, was an alloy used in the Delphic Expanse as a protection against spatial anomalies there. It had unusual effects on Vulcan physiology, and became a recurring plot element in the third season of Star Trek: Enterprise, exploring the theme of drug addiction.
Other materials were occasionally mentioned in the scripts, such as nitrium, a radiation-resistant material.
Dilithium crystals, in all Star Trek series, were shown to be an essential component for a starship's faster than light drive, or warp drive, since they were necessary to regulate the matter-antimatter reactions needed to generate the required energy. Dilithium was frequently featured in the original series as a scarce resource. By the time in which the later series were set, dilithium could be synthesized.
- Real-life dilithium (Li2) materials
Dilithium oxide (Li2O) is white cubic crystal with ionic bonds between the lithium and the oxygen. This material must be kept dry however as it will react strongly with water to form lithium hydroxide.
Trilithium is a material used in a star-destroying weapon in Star Trek Generations, and an explosive in Star Trek: Voyager Season 3: The Chute. This is due to the fact that Trilithium is termed as a "nuclear inhibitor", which is believed to be any substance that interferes with nuclear reactions. In the film, Trilithium is known to be capable, when used to its full potential, of stopping all fusion within a star, thereby collapsing the star and destroying everything within its solar system via a shock wave. Trilithium resin is a toxic byproduct of warp engines, and can be used as a powerful, and quite unstable, explosive (see "Starship Mine", the 18th episode of the sixth season). It is not known whether this is related to the nuclear inhibitor.
Latinum featured in many episodes of Deep Space Nine as a medium of exchange used by Ferengi and others. For convenience's sake (Jadzia Dax joked "probably someone got tired of making change with an eyedropper") the actual currency consisted of the latinum, which is a liquid in its natural state, enclosed in gold casings of standardized size (called slips, strips, bars, and bricks) and was referred to as "gold-pressed latinum". Latinum was useful as a medium of exchange, unlike the (worthless) gold in which it was enclosed, because it is impossible to replicate.
Tholian silk was a valuable fabric mentioned in multiple series.
Bio-mimetic gel is a volatile substance with medical applications. It is also highly sought after for use in illegal activities, such as genetic experimentation and biological weapons development. As such, its use is strictly regulated by the United Federation of Planets, and sale of the substance is prohibited. The substance was first mentioned in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and was used as a plot element in several episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Verterium cortenide is a usually synthetically generated compound, the only known substance to be capable of generating warp fields, when supplied with energy, in form of plasma, from the warp core. Warp coils are made of this material.
Kironide is a mineral by which, in Star Trek: The Original Series, in the episode "Plato's Stepchildren", the Platonians (the inhabitants of the planet Platonius) have telekinetic powers including the ability to levitate from consuming plants containing the mineral kironide.
Cordrazine, introduced in "The City on the Edge of Forever" is a powerful stimulant used to revive patients in an emergency. Overdoses cause hallucinations, madness and death.
Venus drug, introduced in "Mudd's Women", causes women to appear much lovelier and more exciting.
Inaprovaline, Introduced in "Transfigurations". Helps resuscitate the neurological and cardiovascular systems by reinforcing the cell membranes. It is also frequently used as an analgesic.
Ketracel-White, introduced in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, is a narcotic stimulant drug intravenously taken among the Jem'Hadar soldiers of The Dominion. The Jem'Hadar were created by the Founders- a shape-shifting species in the Gamma Quadrant- with a genetic predisposition for addiction to the drug. This was done to ensure their loyalty to the Founders. The drug is synthetically manufactured and refined at guarded facilities throughout Dominion space. Ketracel-White is stored as a liquid in glass vials locked in portable cases held by Vorta field supervisors. A Vorta must dispense the drug among the unit he/she commands at regular hourly intervals, otherwise the Jem'Hadar will suffer withdrawal leading to death. A vial of White is inserted into a dispensing mechanism embedded in the soldier's chest armor, and automatically pumped through a tube inserted into the common carotid artery.
Retinax-5, introduced in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, a drug that corrects vision problems.
Protomatter is a key component of the Genesis Device prototype—an experimental terraformation device introduced in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Protomatter is presented as an unstable substance that, due to its instability, is considered unethical for usage in scientific research. The substance is used as a plot device to compare David Marcus with his father, James T. Kirk, both of whom, in Lieutenant Saavik's words, "changed the rules"—David Marcus by using the forbidden protomatter, and James T. Kirk by "cheating" to win the Kobayashi Maru test. The inclusion of protomatter ultimately results in both the accelerated maturation of the regenerated Spock during his stay on the Genesis planet, and the planet's subsequent explosion into an asteroid belt.
In the Deep Space Nine episode "By Inferno's Light", Protomatter was used by a Dominion changeling in a bomb plot that, if successful, would have destroyed the Bajoran sun and the forces of the Alpha Quadrant.
The Omega Molecule is a highly unstable molecule believed to be the most powerful substance known to exist. If not properly disposed of, it may destroy subspace and render warp travel impossible. In Star Trek: Voyager, during the episode The Omega Directive, Voyager encounters Omega particles and Captain Janeway must comply with the Omega Directive and destroy the particles. Later in the episode, they spontaneously stabilize for a brief moment before they are destroyed.
Red matter is a red liquid material introduced in Star Trek (the 2009 film) that is able to create a black hole when not properly contained. Spock attempts to use it to stop a massive, galaxy-threatening supernova, but the resulting black hole causes his own ship and a Romulan mining vessel to travel back in time. Later in the film, the antagonist Nero uses it to destroy the planet Vulcan. Shortly after, the future Spock's ship containing the red matter is used to destroy Nero's Romulan mining vessel.
Fictional substances within Star Trek
Corbomite was named by Captain Kirk in a bluff in "The Corbomite Maneuver" as a material and a device that prevents attack, because if any destructive energy touches the vessel, a reverse reaction of equal strength is created, destroying the attacker.
- "Metal "Glass" Window Panes Made in Germany". Popular Mechanics. January 1933.
- Tom Scheve. "How Transparent Aluminum Armor Works". How Stuff Works. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
- Sean Ragan (17 January 2012). "Transparent Aluminum". Make. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
- US 4520116 "Transparent aluminum oxynitride and method of manufacture."
- Staff writers (27 July 2009). "Transparent aluminum is 'new state of matter'". PhysOrg. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- Ralf Röhlsberger; et al. (2012). "Electromagnetically induced transparency with resonant nuclei in a cavity". Nature. 482: 199–203. doi:10.1038/nature10741. PMID 22318603. Retrieved 12 September 2012.. 9 February 2012.
- Cientistas fazem ferro ficar transparente, FAPESP (in Portuguese)
- Chemical Bonding, Mark J. Winter, Oxford University Press, 1994, ISBN 0-19-855694-2
- Krauss, Lawrence M. (1997). Beyond Star Trek:Physics from Alien Invasions to the End of Time. New York: Basic Books. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-465-00637-3.