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Home > News > The minuscule may hold the key in energy, health and space

February 23rd, 2008

The minuscule may hold the key in energy, health and space

Abstract:
SINCE the dawn of the Space Age a half-century ago, the weight of rocket fuel needed to lift a payload into or beyond Earth orbit has been a major limitation on space flight. Research in two revolutionary techniques employing nanotechnology offers the promise of overcoming this barrier, although their practical application is still far in the future.

At first glance, a "space elevator" a device that literally could lift a payload some 35,000km into space via a tether extending from the Earth's surface to a satellite in geostationary orbit sounds more like the stuff of science fiction than science.

The technical hurdles in constructing such a space elevator would be immense, not least of all the need to manufacture a super-strong cable of such great length and strength.

Nanotechnology may hold the key for turning this concept into reality. Researchers are investigating the possibility of using carbon nanotubes - structures only a few nanometers in diameter but several thousand nanometers in length - to build this cable.

Because the carbon atoms that form the nanotube exert extremely strong bonds on each other, a nanotube is 100 times stronger than steel. Naturally, immense engineering and scientific challenges remain in constructing any such cable out of nanotubes, but progress continues.

Source:
gulf-times.com

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