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September 10, 2008

Advance in separating carbon nanotubes brings space elevators a step closer


Carbon nanotubes are very strong and light and can be 100 times stronger than the equivalent weight of steel. Carbon nanotubes bearing the same qualities can interlock with one another. But until now, no one had figured out a way to identify and separate nanotubes according to their properties.

Papadimitrakopoulos and his team at the University of Connecticut have used molecules from Vitamin B2 and attached them to nanotubes in such a way that could distinguish different types of nanotubes. With a way to identify nanotubes, researchers can group them together according to their types. (H/T Sander Olsen)


Next for Papadimitrakopoulos is taking his experiments to a more practical level. With an atomic force microscope at UConn, he's researching how to make the nanotubes bond into material. He figures it will take him two to three years for a conclusive result.

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Making longer carbon nanotubes

The Space elevator contest for climbers and tethers
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