A note on nanotube fiber strengths to set the record straight. There exist reports of high GPa nanotube fiber strengths floating around (we’ve spun out some high numbers before too), which is very exciting! These numbers, however, generally refer to gage length, which means the strength of a material over a distance which represents the average microfiber length in the macrofiber (short distances, < 1 mm). Not quite there with macroscopic fiber strengths yet (but we and others are working on it!).
But there’s hope! Nanotube fiber strengths in various research groups have been steadily doubling for a number of years–hopefully this trend will continue! Both our sponsor Nanocomp and Dr. Alan Windle’s group at the University of Cambridge are making some exciting materials by continuous-draw processes, and a number of other groups are working on some exciting other approaches such as spinning from nanotube forests grown on silicon wafers.
Hopefully this clears up any confusion generated by recent reports.
Ted Semon over at spaceelevatorblog.com tracked down a YouTube posting of the BBC “Visions of the Future” segment on the space elevator featuring DeltaX team members Stephen Steiner and John Hart. Thanks Ted!