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Lasers for engine ignition

The pollutant emissions and high-energy consumption of combustion engines using conventional spark plugs have long been serious environmental problems. Now, it has been demonstrated that lasers can provide a feasible green alternative. Duncan Graham-Rowe reports.

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Figure 1
Figure 2: Laser-ignition conbustion efficiency.
Figure 3: Breakdown in air by a microlaser with a pulse energy of 2.7 mJ.
Figure 4: Comparison of a conventional and a microlaser spark plug.
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Graham-Rowe, D., Won, R. Lasers for engine ignition. Nature Photon 2, 515–517 (2008).

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