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]