Looks like Dr. Evil was ahead of his time. We may not have sharks with "frickin' laser beams" yet, but a team of Colorado State University researchers have applied for a patent for laser spark plugs.
In a bid to create a longer-lasting spark plug, the research team hopes to replace electrical ignition with lasers and fiber optics. An infrared neodymium-YAG laser creates the energy, which is carried to the cylinders via optical fibers. A lens focuses the energy, triggering the breakdown of gas inside the cylinder and generating a plasma spark to ignite the fuel. (The patent application explains it in detail, here. Related CSU research is described here.)

Aside from the undeniable coolness factor, what's the point of a laser ignition system? Aside from a longer-lasting ignition trigger, the laser system could allow engineers to optimize spark location, deliver a hotter spark and increase the efficiency of the engine, leading to lower emissions.

Source: NewScientist via Le Blog Auto]

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