BALTIMORE (AP) — Laser spark plugs could help cut emissions from your car.

That’s what Japanese researchers say, and they plan to discuss their new laser spark plug system Monday at an Optical Society conference in Baltimore.

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Lasers strong enough to use as spark plugs have been too big to fit under a car hood until recently. But the researchers say they are now small enough to screw in like conventional spark plugs.

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Laser spark plugs are more powerful, so they don’t need as much fuel to create the explosion that pushes the pistons inside engines. The lasers can also be aimed at the center of cylinder, not the top where current spark plugs sit, further increasing efficiency. And laser spark plugs can be made inexpensively from ceramics.

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