For the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I'm posting alphabetically on things related to Shayla's world from my (unpublished) novel, Ghosts of Innocence...
This exotic weapon is more potent as a threat to instill fear, than as a realistic weapon of war.
The quark bomb is to nuclear fission, as fission is to chemical explosives. When successfully assembled and detonated, a quark bomb can vaporize a mountain, and its radiation can sterilize a large portion of a planet.
The problem is that it's almost impossible to assemble successfully, let alone deploy under battle conditions.
The quark detonator, which produces the energizing field that initiates the full reaction, is touchy enough, but at least it can be handled.
By an expert.
And it's small enough to fit in a small backpack.
The problem lies in bringing the fissile fuel together at the right moment without triggering a premature regular boring old nuclear explosion.
A detonator on its own does significant damage, though. It will leave a sizeable hole in a street, noticeably more than a small backpack full of regular explosives.
But the real damage is in the message it sends. Unlike a normal explosion, a quark detonator effectively atomizes everything within a thirty foot radius. The hemispherical crater is extremely clean, and it directs most of the resulting blast of superheated plasma upwards, so nearby buildings suffer relatively little damage. This means that its detonation leaves an unmistakable signature.
A signature which says "you nearly lost this continent."