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|For The US superweapon in C&C Generals, see Particle Cannon.|
A particle beam is a stream of highly accelerated atoms or charged subatomic particles; this is different from more familiar lasers, which are beams of highly-amplified light. One advantage of particle beams (and other energy based weapons) is that they do not require ammunition, simplifying logistics, though they require significant amounts of energy in order to cause appropriate amounts of damage. Particle beams are expensive and still somewhat experimental, being largely limited to the GDI's Ion Cannon until the Marked of Kane managed to engineer smaller variants that could be used by heavy infantry and vehicles.
These weapons should also not be mistaken for the similar - but distinct - Plasma weapons employed by the Banshee and Cyborg Commando during the Second Tiberium War, and later by many Scrin forces during the Third Tiberium War. Though similar, plasma weapons use magnetic fields to contain and launch discrete 'packets' or blasts of ionized gas as opposed to a coherent beam of charged particles; rarely, they can also fire a directed stream of plasma.
The earliest application of particle beam technology was the infamous Ion Cannon satellite network created by the GDI; these space-based weapons of mass destruction have been the ultimate ace-in-the-hole for GDI ever since the First Tiberium War. Around the time of the Brotherhood's Project ReGenesis, the GDI would experiment with a man-portable version of the ion cannon, but it was not until the Fourth Tiberium War that man-portable particle weapons saw use by the GDI, notably in the hands of the advanced GDI Zone Trooper and Zone Captain.
The Brotherhood also fielded particle beam weaponry during the Third Tiberium War, as the Marked of Kane and the Black Hand became notable for their widespread use of particle beams. The Marked of Kane can use extremely powerful beams as optional upgrades for their Enlightened cyborgs and Venom Patrol Craft, while the Black Hand can give particle beams to their Confessor Cabals, in the form of the T7. Both sides can also modify their Shredder turrets to fire particle beams.
Particle Beams were still used in service during the Ascension Conflict.