Buckytubes consist of hexagonal-shaped carbon formations which connect with themselves in a tubular shape. In a Buckyball the forms come together, like a soccer ball, each one containing 60 carbon atoms each.
In one of the most fascinating findings concerning Buckytubes so far, a Rice Materials Science Professor, Boris Yakobson, has found collections of 10 carbon atoms, in the shape of a pentagon attached to a heptagon, form spontaneously when the tubes are under stress, and then move up and down along the tubes, healing imperfections in the tube’s construction and giving off carbon gas.
The 10-atom structures are seen as blemishes on the tube, but they’re not really blemishes, they’re tiny doctors, which can heal the complex structure as they move along it.
Remember, we’re not talking about living matter here. We are talking
about pure carbon, in the form of a complex carbon molecule,
spontaneously generating structures that can heal imperfections in the
It’s not alive, but it’s spontaneously creating healing structures.
In practical terms, this means that Buckytubes can be made to literally any length. It means they can be formed into room-temperature superconducting wires that will double the output of entire electrical grids. It means they can be formed into a space elevator that will take us off the planet without the need for spacecraft.
Now we just have to figure out how.