A remote detonator is an electronic device that activates explosives at a distance. It increases the safety of the operator and provides precise control over the timing of the blast. According to About.com expert Philippe Dozolme, some remote detonators are programmable. These devices are useful in the detonation of fireworks, dynamite and incendiary weapons.
There are several other types of detonators. Ordinary detonators have fuses and connect directly to the explosive they trigger. These are simple and easy to build but do not provide precise timing control.
Electrical detonators are precision instruments. The most sensitive provide nanosecond accuracy, a crucial element in nuclear warfare. Other types of electrical detonators are accurate to the millisecond and have similar applications.
Non-electric shock-tube detonators are popular in the mining, construction and demolition industries. They have no electrical components, so these detonators are unaffected by power disturbances, surges and other conditions that render conventional electric detonators ineffective.
Some electric detonators are used in mining and civil engineering applications where fastidious timing is essential. These are called slapper detonators. According to EG&G Optoelectronics, their initial energy comes from electrically burst metal filaments that trigger the larger explosion. When slapper detonators are used in mines, the initial charge is created with a laser beam. Optical fibers connect the laser to the explosive device, allowing engineers to control the blast without being inside the mine.