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Consider an electronic device, say wifi dongle. it is inside a wooden box. It may be a) powered up or b) without any power supply.

Is it possible to damage it to render it dysfunctional without damaging the box?

I believe this can be done using 1)Electromagnetic waves, 2) Static electric field and 3) Oscillating electric field.

Let us consider these options one by one. 1) Powerful em waves will induce large electric fields in the antenna and conductors. This may damage the subsequent electronics. What power and frequency is enough for the purpose? 2) Static electric field should induce voltage ascross conductors, resulting in damage. Is this correct? What field stregth is enough? 4) Oscillating electric field should be more effective than static one. What field strength and frequency are enough?

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the classic method to destroy a piece of solid-state electronics is with an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), as is generated by the explosion of an atomic or nuclear bomb, or a device called a disruptor- which is used by police to disable an explosive device with an electronic timer in it. It generates an EMP which is strong enough to burn out the electronics inside a bomb package without blowing up the city it is in.

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  • $\begingroup$ please provide suitable reference for disruptor. or is it a purely sci-fi stuff? $\endgroup$
    – qazxsw
    Sep 3 '18 at 6:26
  • $\begingroup$ it is a counter-terrorism tool and it does exist. $\endgroup$ Sep 3 '18 at 7:04
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The simplest approach is to put the box into a microwave oven. Ten seconds at nominal power won't even heat up the box, and will make a short story of the dongle. The box may sustain superficial damage on the inside if the dongle spews sparks, the plastic catches fire, or some electronic parts explode.

Similarly, a directional microwave emitter will easily damage the electronics. If you want to damage all electronic devices within a hundred meters or so, you should search the dark web for plans of EMP bomb. It involves a permanent magnet, a coil, and a pyrotechnic charge that causes change of the geometry of the device in such a way that a massive electric current is rapidly induced in the coil, which is then immediately transformed into a powerful electromagnetic pulse destroying all electronic devices within range.

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  • $\begingroup$ why there will be explosion? even if there is not capacitor will there be explosion? $\endgroup$
    – qazxsw
    Sep 3 '18 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ @SamFarjamirad: You definitely overestimate the power of microwave oven. 800 watt times 10 seconds is 8 kJ. That's calorie value of one TicTac mint. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Sep 3 '18 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ @SF. Hope you enjoy the video, youtube.com/watch?v=vI8JTUql3bQ $\endgroup$ Sep 3 '18 at 12:11
  • $\begingroup$ That microwave ... is way too dangerous, there is possibility of huge explosion, of course that wouldn't be the case for a single component but a chip will definitely explode. $\endgroup$ Sep 3 '18 at 12:17
  • $\begingroup$ @SamFarjamirad: Would be more informative if they showed the timer. "Eventually..." - just a sensationalist video to cause panic. Check this instead. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Sep 3 '18 at 12:20

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