Hello everyone and welcome to The Sarlacc Pit. A while back I did a post on lightsabers and their construction and use. However, a lot of information regarding kyber crysals (especially those used by the Sith for their lightsabers) has been released recently, so I thought that now would be a good time to update my earlier lightsaber post. Most of this will deal specifically with kyber crystals, and just about all of this information will come from the novels Star Wars: Rogue One: Catalyst and Star Wars: Ahsoka, and there will be spoilers so as always: read at your own risk.
As I stated in my earlier post, kyber crystals were attuned to the Force and used to focus the large amounts of energy used in lightsabers. Larger kybers were used to make powerful weapons such as the Death Star and other Sith superweapons, so the Jedi Order generally restricted access to planets with large amounts of these crystals. These crystals generally grew organically, and were relatively easy to harvest manually. However, the best way to find these crystals (besides taking them from someone else) was by using the Force. These crystals “called” to certain people through the Force. Experienced Jedi were able to hear this call from lightyears away and find their crystal(s) through the Force. The crystal would generally only work for the person called to it, though there were ways around this, as I will explain later.
As for the structure of the kyber, while crystals are rigid in structure, kybers were described by Galen Erso as having a structure similar to living cells which made them difficult to work with. Also, while generally synthesizing crystals is not too difficult with the right tools and scientific knowledge, synthesizing kyber crystals created unstable and explosive replicates. *Note: This is different from Legends canon and what I wrote in my earlier post. In Legends canon: all Sith used synthetic kybers, and Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber in “Return of the Jedi” also used a synthetic crystal. This is no longer canon.*
Bleeding a Kyber Crystal
As a rule, kyber crystals were attuned to the light side of the Force, which meant that Sith and other dark siders could not find or use unaltered kybers for their lightsabers. Therefore, those using the dark side of the Force had to use the Force to dominate the kyber crystals, this caused the crystal to essentially bleed, changing its color to red in the process. This is the new canon explanation as to why all Sith lightsabers are red. This does not mean that Sith could not use an already-made lightsaber, however, just that they could not make their own lightsaber using a non-bled crystal.
These dominated crystals could, however, be purified through the Force. Ahsoka’s white lightsabers (in “Rebels”) are powered by two crystals removed from an Inquisitor’s lightsaber. Ahsoka purified these crystals (which had called to her even while being used by the Inquisitor) using the Force, changing the color from red to white. It is currently unclear as to whether the original color of the kyber was white or if this is a side effect of the purification process.
Domination through the Force was not the only way to bleed an uncooperative crystal. Through his work the creation of clean, cheap energy (which was used without him knowing to create the Death Star’s superlaser), Galen Erso worked heavily with kyber crystals. However, synthesizing kybers was not working and an organic kyber was also uncooperative. Eventually, Galen was able to figure out a method to bleed the crystal by forcing large amounts of energy through it, thus forcing it to cooperate in a similar way that the Sith did.
While Galen Erso, who was not Force-sensitive, was able to coerce the crystal into working for him, this did not come without side effects. Galen stated numerous times that extended exposure to kyber crystals began to have serious side effects which included strange dreams and difficulty sleeping. Science is cool and all, but maybe tampering with super powerful Force crystals is taking it too far, especially if it’s going to be used to make a giant planet-destroying laser.
There you have it, all the current canon information on kyber crystals. As Galen Erso’s daughter, Jyn, will be the main character in the upcoming movie “Rouge One: A Star Wars Story,” perhaps we will learn a bit more of these crystals soon. In the meantime next week I will do another discussion on fan theories surrounding “The Force Awakens.” Specifically, I will be discussing a few fan theories on the identity of Supreme Leader Snoke. Spoiler alert: I think they’re all wrong. Thanks for reading, and may the Force be with you!