You already know that graphene can be used to make transistors, solar cells and even Sennheiser-quality cans. But if you think that's about as cool as the carbon material can get, listen to this: It can also be used to make ultrashort-pulse lasers. According to scientists from a smattering of institutions, the atomic-scale chickenwire material has the ability to absorb light effectively -- much like a sponge -- over a broad range of wavelengths. It can then release the light it absorbs in quick bursts that last a few femtoseconds each (with one femtosecond lasting one millionth of one billionth of a second), which is what ultrashort-pulse lasers do. With graphene as a component instead of traditional materials, scientists could develop a laser as small as a pencil that's immune to thermal damage typically caused by intense beams. The finished product, if ever someone actually concocts one, could be applied across a variety of fields -- everything from pollution monitoring to medicine. For those unafraid of technobabble, there's plenty more in the source link.
[Image credit: Michaelpkk, Wikimedia]