posted on Mar, 17 2005 @ 11:26 PM
I'm taking a 4th year course in nanotech at school right now, and I don't think we are anywhere near the capability of making a 'space elevator'.
The longest nanotubes to date are about 2-3 meters long. There are a lot of difficulties in manufacturing carbon nanotubes (CNTs) that still have to
be overcome. The production of CNTs is so difficult that to buy one gram of the stuff costs roughly $500-$1000.
There are many reasons that CNTs are so laborious to create. One reason is that there are numerous different kinds of CNTs, all sorts of different
lengths, diameters, shapes and sizes, and they all have different properties, and they are formed in a big mess that has to be sorted through to pick
out the ones you want. (not to mention all the other more mundane carbon structures that form in much greater quantity) Until we see a way to
mass-produce CNTs and improve their quality, the space elevator just isn't going to happen. Even then, I still have my doubts.
The place where I think CNTs are going to be extremely important is in microelectronics. CNTs (at least certain types) are excellent
semiconductors, better than anything we have, including silicon. This means that, in theory, smaller & faster transistors could be built than
anything we have now. These transistors have already been made (just google it, there's tons of stuff about them) but we can't mass produce them
CNTs and fullerenes (soccer-ball-like structures of carbons) have massive potential, in my opinion, more than almost anything else out there in any
field, because of the diversity of possible applications and their usefulness. I think this technology is definitely worth keeping an eye on.