Skip navigation
† A. Laser Technology Produces Major Savings for Aircraft Parts

Narrator: This is Science Today. Advances in laser peening technology will enable engineers to design commercial and military aircraft parts that are safer, lighter, built to last and will save hundreds of millions of dollars. Lloyd Hackel of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, says a commercial firm is now using the laser peening technology they developed at the Lab.

Hackel: We developed a laser that runs about twenty-five times faster than anything else like it in the world. This laser puts out a Gigawatt of peak power Ė thatís the output power of a huge electric power plant equivalent, but it only does it for about twenty nanoseconds.

Narrator: Thatís enough time to significantly increase the lifetime of metal fan blades used on large jet engines.

Hackel: The blades were quite expensive, so the small cost of laser peening them was an enormous payback in the extended lifetime and the reduced maintenance on the blades. So, instead of having to tear down the engine and inspect it for safety every several months, you now go several years because you know the cracks wonít grow.

Narrator: For Science Today, Iím Larissa Branin.