Laser Ignition in Space

By Prne, Gaea News Network
Wednesday, October 14, 2009

VILLACH, Austria -

- Sensor Research Centre CTR Aims to Use Laser Ignition in Space

Following automotive and aviation applications, Carinthian Tech Research (CTR) is now working on using laser ignition in space systems. The German Aerospace Centre (Institute of Propulsion Technology), engine manufacturers EADS Astrium and CTR are carrying out the project jointly for the European Space Agency (ESA). In addition to developing a technology roadmap, research also includes testing the HiPoLas(R) miniature laser ignition system on a thruster breadboard. “What made this innovation possible was miniaturising the laser source, which does not require any optical elements and tolerates extremely high temperatures and vibrations,” explains Simon Grasser, CTR’s director. Laser ignition has several advantages: the plasma discharge can be located anywhere and the higher energy than in electrical systems ensures that ignition occurs even at very high beam speeds and with various mixtures.

CTR is a world leader in researching into compact diode-pumped solid-state lasers and designing laser ignition systems (optics, mechanics and electronics). The development of a miniaturised laser spark plug for engine developer AVL caused an international sensation in 2004, as CTR researchers succeeded in reducing its size from a table to a computer-mouse. Not only is the laser source undergoing successful tests in automotive and gas engines but also being adapted for aircraft turbines. CTR’s expertise is protected by numerous patents. In addition, it also appears to be in demand in space: high- temperature-resistant RFID-sensors were developed for NASA in 2007.

CTR is the largest non-university R&D centre in Carinthia and a COMET competence centre. Research focuses on developing intelligent sensor solutions for automation, process and quality control. Founded in 1997, CTR has gained over 45 patents to date. Customers include Infineon, OMYA and Siemens.

Contact CTR Birgit Rader-Brunner +43-664-4884712

Source: CTR Carinthian Tech Research AG

Contact: CTR, Birgit Rader-Brunner, +43-664-4884712, birgit.rader-brunner at

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