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A. A New Laser May Help Build Stronger Airplanes

Narrator: This is Science Today. A laser technique developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory may result in safer airplanes. Researcher Lloyd Hackel says using a laser pulse creates stronger metals than an older method called shot peening.

Hackel: Standard shot peening uses little metal balls propelled against the metal surface to pound compressive stress into the surface in order to prevent those metals from cracking when they're operated in routine cycles of operation. The problem is that it doesn't put the stress very deep.

Narrator: The laser made an impact four times deeper than shot peening, so one of the big priorities is working on the turbine blades of aircraft engines.

Hackel: There's a potential that cracks can develop in these blades, especially picking up debris from the runway or from the air and those cracks, after lots of cycles of operation can actually propagate through a blade and cause that blade to completely fail and that can fail the engine and potentially fail the aircraft.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.