The idea of an elevator to space is old, in both science fiction and in theoretical real world science. With the discovery of carbon nanotubes and graphene in the recent decades, the idea has been a topic of scientific discussion.
A space elevator made of for example, carbon nanotubes composite ribbon, could be anchored to an offshore sea platform that would stretch to a small counterweight approximately 100,000 km (62,000 miles) into space. Making it both cheaper and less dagrous in reaching space.

A research team from Tsinghua University in Beijing has developed a carbon nanotube fiber they say is so strong it could even be used to build an elevator to space.

The team says just 1 cubic centimeter of the fiber would not break under the weight of 160 elephants, or more than 800 tonnes. And that tiny piece of cable would weigh just 1.6 grams.

The research has been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology earlier this year. The team who are patenting the technology, say that this new “ultralong” fibre from carbon nanotube that is stronger than anything seen before.

“It is evident that the tensile strength of carbon nanotube bundles is at least 9 to 45 times that of other materials,”

They said the material would be “in great demand in many high-end fields such as sports equipment, ballistic armor, aeronautics, astronautics, and even space elevators”.

– The team said in the paper.

The idea of building a space elevator that could travel from the Earth into space may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but it has been around for more than a century, and scientists have come up with various designs in recent decades and we have written about before.


Yunxiang Bai et al. Carbon nanotube bundles with tensile strength over 80 GPa Nature Nanotechnologyvolume 13, pages589–595 (2018)