The stone burner was a particularly destructive weapon. It could perform one of two tasks; the first function of the bomb was to release massive amounts of J-rays (a type of radiation that dissolves eye tissue), thus blinding all creatures within a certain radius. The second objective was to create general destruction of property.
After the device was activated it would set off an explosion that arced straight up and down. The explosive yield would be determined by the person(s) who set up the device, as well as the size of its power source. Should the party wish it, the stone burner could explode down to the core of the planet. The resulting sudden release of the planets inner magma would tear the world apart.
Despite its massive power, the stone burner was not considered an atomic weapon. Its fuel source was atomic, however. A stone burner would first detonate an atomic within it, and then collect the energy to use for its other devastating tasks.
During the days of the Imperium, the issue of stone burners was a controversial one. According to the Great Convention, only Great Houses could possess atomics. Thus, someone who did not belong to a Great House could own a stone-burner, but they could not possess its fuel.
The Great Convention also forbade the use of weapons of mass destruction such as atomics and stone burners against humans directly. However, there were times when this prohibition was circumvented or outright disobeyed.
Emperor Paul Atreides was blinded by a stone burner during an attack on him and his Fedaykin. While this attack did not kill Paul or his men, it left them blinded. Earlier, when the Fremen were attacking Naraj during Muad'dib's Second Crusade, the Naraj defenders used a stone burner to blind the attacking Fremen but not to kill them. The legality of this action was vague at best.
- Dune Messiah (First appearance)