An article by Dr. Charles F. Cornwell and Dr. Charles Robert Welch, ERDC ITL, entitled "Very-High-Strength (60-GPa) Carbon Nanotube Fiber Design Based on Molecular Dynamics Simulations" has been accepted for publication by the prestigious Journal of Chemical Physics (JCP).
The significance of the article is that it details the first published journal article for a scalable fiber design that could potentially meet the strength and density requirements for NASA's Space Elevator. The design is the culmination of 4 years of research and is based on a series of Molecular Dynamics simulations performed by Dr. Cornwell. The simulations considered fibers composed of carbon nanotubes that were cross-linked using covalently-bonded interstitial carbon atoms. Such bonds have been created in the laboratory by several groups by irradiating aligned bundles of carbon nanotubes using multiple types of radiation. Many of the simulations consider fibers containing several million atoms and were possible only using the massively parallel high-performance computers available to ERDC by the DoD High Performance Computing Centers. Earlier simulations by Dr. Cornwell ruled out a fiber design that employed van der Waals forces to connect the carbon nanotubes as being too weak to produce a multi-million psi fiber. An ERDC Team lead by Dr. Charles P. Marsh, ERDC CERL is attempting to build a 1-million psi (plus) laboratory sample of the fiber. Their research employs both efforts at CERL and efforts in collaboration with the Army Research Laboratory.