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Dilithium was an element, a member of the hypersonic series, mostly occurring as crystalline mineral. It was used to control the power of the warp drive systems of many starships by regulating the matter/antimatter reaction in a ship's warp core because of its ability to be rendered porous to light-element antimatter when exposed to high temperatures and electromagnetic pressures. It controlled the amount of power generated in the reaction chamber, channeling the energy released by mutual annihilation into a stream of electro-plasma.

Alternative local names for dilithium included Radan and Winter's tear. (TOS: "Elaan of Troyius"; VOY: "Muse")

Under certain rare circumstances, dilithium deposits could form in such a way that the crystals grew into perfectly aligned lattices. If enough dilithium was present, it begab to form "generator strata". A piezoelectric effect occured when the crystals take the radiant heat of the planet and convert it into mechanical energy. This mechanical energy could increase tectonic stresses in a planet's crust to the point where the planet literally tears itself apart. This phenomenon was responsible for the destruction of a number of planets in the Selcundi Drema sector.

The number of planets destroyed in the Selcundi Drema sector by the process described above in that episode suggests that for some reason the region had a much higher "population" of dilithium bearing planets than would otherwise be expected.
Dilithium processing facility

A Federation dilithium processing facility

One method of detecting the potential presence of dilithium deposits during a geological survey was by studying UV absorption patterns. Certain characteristic patterns tended to indicate the presence of traker deposits, which are commonly formed along with the dilithium ore. An ico-spectrogram could then be run to confirm the ore's presence. (TNG: "Pen Pals")

HistoryEdit

Radan necklace

A radan necklace

Dilithium could be found on only a few planets in the galaxy, and was therefore a rare and valuable substance.(citation needededit) On Troyius, crude dilithium crystals were known as radans, a common stone of little value. Its uses included jewelry. (TOS: "Elaan of Troyius")

In 2267, the Federation attempted to open negotiations with the Halkans to allow the Federation to mine dilithium from their planet, but they refused out of fear that the Federation would one day use their materials for acts of violence. That same year, in the mirror universe, the Halkans refused an explicit demand from the crew of the ISS Enterprise for their dilithium crystals. Standard procedure dictated a phaser barrage on their cities, but Captain James T. Kirk, accidentally sent to the mirror universe, would not allow this. (TOS: "Mirror, Mirror")

Dilithium crystal graphic

Dilithium crystal diagram as seen in one of USS Voyager's shuttlecraft computer core

After being sent back in time to 1947, Quark asked US General Rex Denning if dilithium was used as a currency. (DS9: "Little Green Men")

Dozaria was rich in dilithium, which attracted the Breen to the planet. In 2366, they forced the Ravinok to crash on the planet and put the survivors to work in the dilithium mine. (DS9: "Indiscretion")

Dukat and Damar were able to trick Captain K'Temang into believing the Groumall was carrying refined dilithium crystals by modifying the Cardassian freighter's subspace transceiver array to emit a false dilithium signal. (DS9: "Return to Grace")

Odo and several members of the Cardassian Rebellion destroyed the Tevak shipyards by sabotaging the dilithium in its storage bunkers. (DS9: "Tacking Into the Wind")

Lyndsay Ballard said that dilithium extraction was always one of B'Elanna Torres' specialties. (VOY: "Ashes to Ashes") Torres helped Neelix prepare for a mining operation by giving him material to study on dilithium geophysics. (VOY: "Phage")

On Kelis' homeworld in the Delta Quadrant natural dilithium crystals found were called "winter's tear". (VOY: "Muse")

Dilithium as a Starship power sourceEdit

Dilithium crystal converter assembly

A damaged dilithium crystal in 2268

Dilithium reamplification

Re-amplifying dilithium crystals in 2267

While the early Earth starships of the NX class utilized dilithium matrices in their warp cores, (ENT: "Affliction"), during the mid-2260s Constitution-class also used crystallized lithium. (TOS: "Mudd's Women")

Housed in a dilithium crystal converter assembly, the crystals were used as a power source as well as a regulator. Dependency on that power meant the starships risked losing the ability to maintain an orbit, let alone use of their warp drive, when a number of dilithium crystals were drained of their power or became fused in their assembly. In some circumstances, crystals could be re-amplified to provide continued service, rather than replaced. Alternatively, crude crystals might be used, though their unusual shapes could affect the energy flow in unpredictable and potentially catastrophic ways. (TOS: "The Alternative Factor", "Elaan of Troyius")

Use of dilithium resulted in decrystallization, effecively leaving it drained. Traces of Illium-629 might be produced in its breakdown. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; TNG: "Pen Pals")

In or around 2257, Me Hani Ika Hali Ka Po, a member of the Xahean royal family, built an incubator to recrystallize dilithium. (ST: "Runaway") However, Starfleet did not have this ability until at least the 2280s. During a time travel mission from 2286 to 1986, Spock and Scotty developed a method of recrystallizing dilithium through exposure high-energy photons from the toxic nuclear fission reactors of that era. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

By the 2360s, Starfleet had the ability to re-crystallise dilithium while it was still enclosed in the warp core's dilithium articulation frame using a theta-matrix compositor. This was done by recompositing fractured crystals. (TNG: "Relics"; VOY: "Innocence")

In 2372, the USS Voyager discovered a new form of dilithium in the Delta Quadrant that remained stable at much higher reaction rates, allowing a vessel to travel more efficiently at much higher speeds. This dilithium was installed aboard the shuttlecraft Cochrane to test an experimental warp 10 flight. (VOY: "Threshold")

Known dilithium sources Edit

Appendices Edit

See also Edit

Background information Edit

  • Scientifically, use of the prefix "di-" denotes two atoms, suggesting dilithium consists of two atoms of lithium. However, lithium, being a metal, should not be able to exist in this state, as metals cannot form diatomic molecules. "Real" dilithium (two lithium atoms in a covalent bond) is only currently known to exist as a gas.
  • According to Star Trek Encyclopedia, originally, lithium was said to be used to control the warp reaction, but it was quickly realized that since lithium was a real element, with known properties, it would not be able to do some of the things the writers wanted it to do.
  • According to the Star Fleet Medical Reference Manual, (p. 17) dilithium's symbol was Dl, and it had the atomic weight 315 and atomic number 119. It was first discovered by Humans as early as 2049 on the "fifth moon of Jupiter", which would be Io by today's numbering.

Apocrypha Edit

Several prop dilithium clusters were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay. [1] [2]

Star Trek Online introduced dilithium as a currency in its fifth season, "Call to Arms".

External links Edit