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Lasers, Taira explains, can focus their beams directly into the center of the mixture. Without quenching, the flame front expands more symmetrically and up to three times faster than those produced by spark plugs. Equally important, he says, lasers inject their energy within nanoseconds, compared with milliseconds for spark plugs. "Timing -- quick combustion -- is very important. The more precise the timing, the more efficient the combustion and the better the fuel economy," he says.