Microwave emitter to disable listening devices: does it exist?

This perhaps verges on tinfoil hat territory, but it’s a legit question.

In a discussion with a friend this evening about electronic surveillance, friend said that her partner, an ex-military and police type who supposedly once had some undefined connection with black ops, had told her that there exists a hand-held device about the size of a traffic radar gun that can be used to permanently disable electronic surveillance devices (and presumably other low-voltage electronics) in a structure. This apparently is not a radio frequency jamming device but a emitter of a directed beam (probably microwave energy) that will permanently disable low-power electronics, and is (also apparently) available only to law enforcement personnel. Anyone ever hear of anything like this?

I’m aware of research into various microwave or EMP generators for the disabling of vehicles or other systems, but didn’t think fully commercialized devices were already in use. My Google-fu this night is weak, and all I’ve found that might come close to something like the device described above was a 1990 New York Times article. The item in question mentions a patent being granted for a microwave device that supposedly could disable eavesdropping equipment, but the article mentions that the device was ‘the size of a washing machine’ so either smaller versions now exist or (more likely IMO) my friend’s story is wrong or garbled.

Any concrete help on this would be appreciated.

My knowledge on this is confined to the device used in ‘Mission Impossible’, which jammed a mobile phone. :cool:

There’s also an EMP pulse, but obviously you’re not referring to a nuclear explosion. :eek:

Back in the old cold war days wasn’t the US Embassy in Moscow built with hidden listening devices installed that were powered by microwave emission? The Soviets hid them, not the US, although I guess the US may have hid some too. When the US found out about it there was a lot of concern about the health effects of the microwave bombardment.

If the devices were powered by microwaves they had to have an antenna to receive them. It should be possible to overload it with a strong enough signal from a close range, but as to whether this could be done reliably from a hand held device that was safe to wave around a room I have my doubts. Maybe a microwave detector that could reveal the device’s power source is the origin of the story.

The Russian device was completely passive - it didn’t require any power at all. It was simply a microwave reflector that was modulated by sound waves. A microwave beam aimed at it would be reflected back carrying the audio.