Spark plugs are used to ignite the gas and oxygen mixture in your vehicle's engine and are NOT to be confused with butt plugs, which are used to reignite the passion in your bedroom. Me? I tried once but just shit the sheets. So romantic. Enter laser plugs: way less intimidating than the f***ing parking cone I had to sit on. *shivers*
Not only would these lasers allow for better performance and fuel economy, but cars using them would also create less harmful emissions.
Engines would produce less NOx if (nitrous oxides, toxic) they burnt more air and less fuel, but they would require the plugs to produce higher-energy sparks in order to do so. While this is technically possible, the voltages involved would burn out the electrodes quite quickly. Laser igniters on the other hand, could ignite leaner mixtures without self-destructing because they don't have electrodes.
The NINS scientists also address another limitation of spark plugs - the fact that they only ignite the area of the air-fuel mixture closest to them (the top), with much of the heat of the explosion being absorbed by the metal cylinder walls before it can reach down to the piston.
Additionally, engine timing could be improved, as lasers can pulse within nanoseconds, while spark plugs require milliseconds.
See? Laser plugs -- the future of transportation. Just kidding, the future of transportation are hover-cars that run on brainpower. "Haha, why's mine not working?" Exactly.
Thanks to David E. and bradley, who still ignite gas the old fashioned way: bent over with a lighter to their sweatpants. Good times!