Narrator: This is Science Today. Metal peening was invented after World War II to prevent surface cracking and fatigue by applying compressive stress. This is done by shooting rapidly propelled metal balls against the surface. But now Lloyd Hackel, a laser physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, says metal surfaces are in for a big shock from the Lab's powerful new laser.
Hackel: This is a unique, high energy laser...the peak power output of this laser is actually like that of a nuclear power plant and we can put out ten of those pulses a second. When that laser light impinges on the surface of the metal, we create an enormous pressure three to four times deeper than any conventional metal-to-metal process.
Narrator: This may be of great benefit to the aerospace industry.
Hackel: If we can provide parts that will not fatigue as easily, then the engineering people can look at making those parts thinner, lighter weight and make a more efficient and effective aircraft.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.