This article reviews that lasers are being investigated as a way to uncover tiny imperfections in crucial ceramic components of diesel engines. Heavy-duty truck engines are designed to operate for a million miles or more. In their search for components that resist corrosion and wear, manufacturers have developed engine parts from ceramics, which have found their way into a number of commercial engine applications over the last 10 years. Under some conditions, the materials hold up better than steel, but they are not immune to weaknesses of their own. The machining of ceramic parts, for example, can leave them with flaws that lead to early failure and defeat their purpose. The laser technique being developed at Argonne National Laboratory is intended to inspect the quality of ceramic parts after they are machined. So far, the laser technique has been developed to look for imperfections in silicon nitride, silicon carbide, and zirconia, among other ceramic materials.

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