The space elevator: a concept first conceptualized in the late 19th century that has been highly disputed and contested over the years. Many scientists and research institutions believe that the space elevator can be actualized in our lifetime. Up until 2014, Google X’s Rapid Evaluation R&D team was still working on bringing this concept to life. However, the project came to a halt due to the lack of advancement in the field of carbon nanotubes—the material that many deemed necessary to meet the strength requirements for the space elevator.
But work in the field of carbon nanotubes pressed on, and in 2014 diamond nanothreads were first synthesized. With strength properties similar to that of carbon nanotubes, researchers are once again interested in the development of the space elevator.
After testing from the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, researchers are putting a breath of fresh air into the space elevator with large scale diamond nanothreads, which may potentially be the world’s strongest substance.
Conceptually, the space elevator is a 60,000 mile cable that runs from Earth’s equator to space. The idea of the elevator came about in order to improve space exploration by more easily providing supplies, food, and equipment.
PS: Check out what else is happening in the world of carbon nanotubes.
Of course, to develop a cable this long, engineers would need to get their hands on the strongest possible material. Some believe that diamond nanothreads may just be that material, citing them as the “ideal” material for a project of this scope.
While it may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, the space elevator could be much closer than we think. Diamond nanothreads may be building a path to space as soon as 2050.[Image: Miriam Maslo/Science Photo Library, Lifeport]