Carbon nanotubes too weak to get a space elevator off the ground – New Scientist

The team’s simulations show that the kink acts as a weak point in the tube, easily snapping the normally strong carbon-carbon bonds. Once this happens, the bonds in the adjacent hexagons also break, unzipping the entire tube. The effect on CNTs spun together into fibres is similar – once one CNT breaks, the strain on the others increases, fracturing them in sequence.

The results suggest just one misplaced atom is enough to weaken an entire CNT fibre, and since nanotube manufacturing processes are flawed at the moment, you will inevitably end up with a bad tube in your fibre.

“Only CNTs with extreme quality are able to retain their ideal strength,” says Ding. “Most mass-produced CNTs are highly defective, and high-quality CNTs are hard to produce in large quantity.”

That’s bad news for people who want to build a space elevator, a cable between the Earth and an orbiting satellite that would provide easy access to space.

From: Carbon nanotubes too weak to get a space elevator off the ground | New Scientist

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