A specific application of metamaterials science, photodisruptors were developed in response to light-based weapons and defensive systems. The key feature of photodisruptive materials is their ability to absorb and diffuse intense light (and the heat associated with it) without damage to the photodisruptive item or coating itself. Metamaterials achieve this by taking the light and heat concentrated onto a precise point and spreading it over the entirety of the photodisruptive surface, meaning that the larger a given disruptive surface is, the more intense light it can diffuse before it takes damage.
Because nanotechnology is required in the creation of electromagnetic metamaterials, the same swarm that was used to create a photodisruptive item stays with the subject, repairing damage to the disruptor from general wear and tear as well as instances where the item is pushed beyond its standard diffusive limits. Because photodisruptors so perfectly absorb light, they appear totally black and featureless on the macroscopic level, more like a pitch-black shadow hovering in place than any corporeal thing. The most common form of photodisruptors is to coat a surface in a layer of a multi-wavelength metamaterials to achieve the disruptive effect.
The electromagnetic absorption properties of photodisruptors make them not just virtually impenentrable to laser-based weaponry, but also other forms of radiation bombardment and can even withstand personnel-scale pholyphotonic weapon strikes.
In the case of photodisruptors composed of a non-adaptive metamaterial coating, while they cannot 'break' hardlight-based shields, they can penetrate through them with virtually no damage in the instance of quick slashes and thrusts, though prolonged exposure to the intense energies of polyphotonics can damage a given item.
For the weapons with an adaptive coating, they can weather such exposure much longer by continually adjusting their surface properties. Moreover, through these adjustments they can cause polyphotonic shapes to fail if they pass through one of the edges of a given hardlight shape. The effect this has is to desynchronise the monopoles of the two nodes that formed the affected edge of the shape, opening up an area of non-containment in the hardlight object out of which usually-constained laser-intensity light can burst forth, with disastrous results for the polyphotonics-user and/or those nearby. As such, when a node-pair fails, any well-made hardlight generator system has a built-in failsafe to shut down the entire array to recalibrate its component monopoles before reactivating.
In combat scenarios where someone is wielding a photodisruptive melee weapon against a hardlight armour wearer, the result is that the disruptor will almost always deactivate a given piece of hardlight armour, forcing the person on the defence to focus more on traditional solid armour to avoid injury.