Up to this point, attempts to make carbon nanotubes--basically little straws made from atomic carbon--have been daunting. There has always been a high number of impurities, meaning that it's been expensive to make enough nanotubes to, say, make tiny circuitry or build super-strong cables, just to mention a few potential applications. Removing impurities has always been a huge part of the cost of making nanotubes.
Until now. It seems that adding a tiny amount of water to the carbon mixture helps ensure a very pure batch of nanotubes.
Since one possible use of nanotubes includes building a space elevator, this development has me wondering if such a space elevator will be built in my lifetime. It might well get built sooner rather than later.