Japanese researchers think their lasers can do a better job than conventional spark plugs.
(ABC News)- "If you want save gasoline, cut CO2 and [emissions] with more power, new ignition should be required," said Takunori Taira, an associate professor of laser research at the Institute for Molecular Science in Okazaki, Japan, whose team developed the new system.
Each composite laser is made from ceramic powders heated up to become transparent, and then embedded with metal ions. Separate segments of the material are bonded together to make a laser that's nearly a half an inch long.
Several fast pulses provide enough concentrated optical energy for one of tiny lasers to ignite an air-fuel mixture. Unlike spark plugs, the lasers don't have electrodes that erode over time, making them ideal for use in clean-fuel vehicles. Taira said that the laser also works faster than a spark plug, which should improve fuel efficiency.