Due to the progresses in exhaust emission after-treatment systems and in the development of new combustion processes, the S.I. engine has been booming in the past few years. But the efficiency will have to be improved in the future. Because of its thermodynamic benefits, the S.I. direct injection engine of the second generation — so called air guided system — shows the highest potential for gasoline engines to reduce fuel consumption. However, there are restrictions when using conventional spark ignition system. They concern the optimum position of ignition initialization and spark-plug wear, the latter being caused by inhomogeneous mixture distribution. The laser-induced ignition enables a flexible choice of the ignition location and a wear resistant initialization of the combustion process. The most crucial component here is the optics (the combustion-chamber window), through which the laser beam passes into the combustion chamber. In this paper, laser-induced ignition is discussed and its potential compared to a conventional ignition system is presented. In addition, several optic configurations are presented as well as tests regarding the minimum required laser energy and the optic contamination and self-cleaning effect of the optics. At the Institute of Internal Combustion Engines at the Vienna University of Technology the optic contamination and self-cleaning effect, which is crucial for a long-term operation, was tested on a two-cylinder research engine.

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