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Let’s Go Ahead And Add “Makes Lasers” To Graphene’s Already Impressive Resume

Graphene continues to impress by showing its ability to create ultrashort pulses of laser light.



We get it, graphene — you’re amazing. We’ve more or less accepted that there’s nothing graphene can’t do, but that doesn’t stop us from being amazed every time it does something new. It’s newest feat is that the super-material can be used to create ultrashort-pulse lasers. Damn, graphene. Save some cool stuff for the other materials to do.

Experiments using graphene have shown that the material can absorb light, and then release it in a pulse of any color. It’s the ability to pulse in any color that sets graphene apart from other materials used to create these ultrashort-pulse lasers. Sure, some materials can absorb a specific wavelength of light, and then pulse it out in just a few femtoseconds — which are one millionth of one billionth of one second — but that means they can only pulse in one color. Like chumps!

That means that in some applications it takes a number of different lasers to get the job done. Not anymore! The experiments show that graphene-based lasers could replace these multiple-laser setups for things like pollution detection, fiber optic communications, and if there’s any justice in this world — lightsabers. (It’s worth noting that nothing in the experiments indicate that this will bring us any closer to lightsabers, but if we don’t keep telling science that we want lightsabers, then how will they know?)

Another advantage of graphene is that it can withstand the heat of an intense laser beam, and can be built into a laser as small as a pencil. Pencil-sized graphene-based ultrashort-pulse lasers for everyone!

Sorry for all the exclamation points. I just get really excited about graphene.

(Nature via Engadget, image via Andrew Adams)

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Glen is a comedian, writer, husband, and father. He won his third-grade science fair and is a former preschool science teacher, which is a real job.