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Graphene has caused a lot of excitement among scientists since the extremely strong and thin carbon material was discovered in 2004. Just one atom thick, the honeycomb-shaped material has several remarkable properties combining mechanical toughness with superior electrical and thermal conductivity.
Now a group of scientists at Iowa State University and the Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory, led by physicist Jigang Wang, has shown that graphene has two other properties that could have applications in high-speed telecommunications devices and laser technology – population inversion of electrons and broadband optical gain.