A blowtorch or flamethrower is not normally thought of as a directed energy tool. It is used to spread heat or damage over an extended region.
Yet as conventional lithography techniques move toward 30 nm, the analogy becomes more and more applicable.
The next generation techniques like EUVL or EBL all may be able to focus the primary energy into a 30 nm spot, but the final damage is extended much beyond this nominal spot, in the form of photoelectrons, secondary electrons, heating, desorption, etc. The simple light-beam has become the blow-torch.
Current 248 nm and 193 nm photolithography use chemical amplification, which means acids are used to help catalyze the reactions in the photoresist. Since these acids are diffused during baking, this also is a manifestation of spreading the damage. It is a little bit like spreading the ink from a dip pen.
Since 40 nm and below is the extent of "damage", expect to see non-lithographic techniques like trimming and growing to make smaller and smaller features from larger ones.