A technique thought to be a promising cancer treatment is also being investigated as the basis for a Taser-like weapon that stuns for longer, New Scientist has learned.
The technology involves short, nanosecond-long pulses of extreme voltage.
Microsecond pulses have been used for years to punch temporary holes in cell membranes, to shove genes or drugs into cells. But the nanosecond pulses have similar effects on individual organelles inside a cell, such as the nucleus.
For reasons as yet unknown, this can cause a cell to destroy itself in a process known as apoptosis, something being investigated as a cancer treatment. But the nanosecond pulses are also being researched as a way to temporarily disable human muscles.