Carbon Nanotubes Can’t Handle a Space Elevator

According to new research, one flat could ruin the whole thing. Bummer.

Alright, space elevator plans are back to square one, people. Carbon nanotubes probably aren’t going to be our material solution for a space elevator, because apparently even a minuscule (read: atomic) flaw in the design drastically decreases strength.

Researchers at the Hong Kong Polytechnic Institute figured out that even a single atom out of place in the structuring of a carbon nanotube reduces the strength of the structure by dozens to factors.

And that’s a serious problem, since it’s very hard to create large-scale sections of carbon nanotubes without a single flaw.

Obviously, ensuring that a space-elevator sized volume of carbon nanotubes is totally flawless would take…well, it would be rather time consuming.

So either current production processes need drastic improvement, or we need a new strategy for this elevator.

Either way, back to square one.

[H/T New Scientist]