Dr. Brad Edwards, the ‘father’ of the modern-day conception of the Space Elevator, has written a very interesting article in the latest issue of the TRUMPF newsletter (available here).
In this article, Dr. Edwards talks about how lasers can be used, not only to power the Climbers that will travel on the Space Elevator, but also may be involved in the creation of the carbon nanotube fibers that the Elevator will be built of. From the article:
“A powerful laser is focused onto a mixture of carbon and metal catalysts vaporizing the mixture into the surrounding 1200 °C furnace. The metal catalyst forms nanoparticles where the carbon atoms adhere and move about to combine into rings and then graphite sheets. These sheets wrap around the catalyst particle and form a tube that begins to extend out as more carbon atoms are added to the end where the catalyst sits.”
A truly interesting article – highly recommended.
TRUMPF, of course, is the company which is providing laser power and laser-power-expertise to no less than five of the contestants in this year’s Space Elevator Games (chronicled here, here, here, here and here).
(Hat tip to Dan Leafblad of the Kansas City Space Pirates for pointing out this article to me – thanks Dan!)