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Super Honeycomb CNT's: New Hope for Space Elevator Tether?

Beijing -- Hope for the space elevator was set back when Nicola Pugno of Politecnico di Torino published a study in August 2006 pointing up problems with the proposed tether design. When Coluci et al proposed the existence of super-nanotubes in August 2006 Signor Pugno turned the problem into an opportunity publishing an evaluation of the strength, toughness and stiffness of super-nanotubes in October 2006 predicting "huge toughening mechanisms [that suggest] the feasibility of 'super-composites'" comparable to nacre (AKA mother-of-pearl).

Building on these previous works 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.

Their paper concludes, in part, that "the network structures are expected to provide useful applications not only in nanoelectronics but also in fiber-reinforced composites."

In December, 2006, Signor Pugno told the Space Elevator Journal by email that he was "developing a theory to design a flaw-tolerant megacable."

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