Thanks to new research from a Japanese/Romanian team, cars could become TOTALLY FREAKING AWESOME in the near future.
Takunori Taira and colleagues at Japan’s National Institutes of Natural Sciences have come up with a way of making tiny, high-power lasers out of ceramics, small enough to be used in car engines instead of spark plugs.
At the moment the fuel-air mixture in a petrol engine’s cylinder is ignited by a plug which generates a spark between its electrodes using high-voltage electricity. The spark plug is the limiting factor on how “lean” – how low in fuel – the mixture can be: in order to ignite a leaner mixture the spark must be hotter, and past a certain point this destroys the electrodes.
But designers would like to make leaner-running engines as this would improve fuel economy and cut down on emissions.
Lasers would potentially offer hotter ignition, and they have other advantages too. The timing of ignition would be more precise than with sparkplugs – on the very brief timescales over which cylinder mixtures change, the exact point at which a plug will spark is quite unpredictable.
About time we got more laz0rs in our lives!
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