Thursday, January 25, 2007

A New Hope For Carbon Nanotubes? Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas

Despite the promise of companies like LiftPort and Black Line Ascension producing a working space elevator, one major hurdle remains--building a ribbon out of perfect carbon nanotubes (CNT).

While engineering and nature have taught us that making a perfect CNT is impossible, we may be able to fashion a super strong CNT based on the design of natures sweetest treats.

(Space Elevator Journal) [...] Tsinghua University scientists Min Wang, Xinming Qiu, and Xiong Zhang released a paper (abstracted here on the Institute of Physics site) on their study modeling the Mechanical Properties of Super Honeycomb Structures Based on Carbon Nanotubes. Their report shows a super honeycomb network configuration of hexagonal patterns made from periodically repeating carbon nanotube Y junctions "increases the ductility of the nanomaterials" so that they not only keep the "renowned strength and elasticity" of straight nanotubes but have "great flexibility and outstanding capability" to transfer force to other parts of the structure when broken.

If this process could be "perfected," honeycombed CNT's could not only allow for a working space elevator to be built. This could potentially enable the ribbon to withstand uncertain decay from microscopic space rocks, aggressive oxygen in the atmosphere, and scraps of space junk from China's ASAT test.

Note: Previously LiftPort announced a potential breakthrough regarding CNT technology. I wonder if the honeycomb design had anything to do with it?

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

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~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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