Mass Effect fields are created by utilizing element zero, a relatively common but valuable mineral found in the Mass Effect universe. Produced in great quantities when a celestial body is bombarded with energized radiation from a supernova explosion, element zero has the unique ability to release dark energy when an electrical current is introduced into it. Depending on the amount of element zero used and polarity of the electrical charge, the dark energy distortion created by the element zero will have different effects. The Mass Effect Field is the resulting volume of spacetime that is affected by the charged element zero, either by increasing or decreasing the mass within that volume. A positive electrical current will increase mass, and a negative current will decrease mass.
Mass Effect Fields have literally thousands of applications in the galactic civilization of the Mass Effect universe, however they enjoy an especially strong presence in the military and industrial sectors. Some of the more common uses of Mass Effect Fields include:
- Used to create anti-gravity drives for consumer and commercial vehicles.
- Used to generate low-mass fields for space flight, allowing faster-than-light travel, as well as high-mass fields, producing artificial gravity.
- Low-mass fields are used to create blended alloys, and high-mass fields are used to create dense metals for construction purposes.
- Many military vehicles use mass effect fields as well, allowing the use of advanced weapons technology and mobility enhancement (like the MAKO).
- Infantry forces make use of mass effect generators in their powered body armor to produce shields and lighten the weight of the armor itself.
- Just about all standard infantry armaments use tiny element zero cores to produce mass effect fields which significantly aid in targeting, and can accelerate projectiles to many times their normal speed by generating a low-mass field within the firing chamber.
Mass Effect Fields can also be generated as a semi-natural ability by certain species. When a developing fetus is exposed to dust-form element zero, there is a very small chance that the mineral will coalesce within the fetus's nervous system as nodules, which, like standard element zero cores, react to electrical impulses produced by the brain. The few individuals that survive to adulthood (the mortality rate is extraordinarily high) are known as biotics, and are highly sought after by the various military forces in the Mass Effect universe due to their ability to generate Mass Effect Fields at will. While initially a relatively weak ability, with implants and training, biotic soldiers are fearsome on any battlefield.
The only known race to have naturally-occurring biotics are the Asari. Events in Mass Effect 3 reveal that the Asari's evolutionary and culutural develpoment were rapidly accelerated by the Protheans. While specifics were never determined, the fact that element zero became an integrated part of the Asari's biology lend credence to Prothean attempts at developing a race of biotic weapons with which to fight the Reapers. As a result, the Asari are some of the most powerful biotics in the galaxy, their commandos being feared and respected warriors across all of known space.