New Nuclear Battery Runs 10 Years, 10 Times More Powerful
A battery with a lifespan measured in decades is in development at the University of Rochester, as scientists demonstrate a new fabrication method that in its roughest form is already 10 times more efficient than current nuclear batteries and has the potential to be nearly 200 times more efficient. The details of the technology, already licensed to BetaBatt Inc., appears in today's issue of Advanced Materials.
Our society is placing ever-higher demands for power from all kinds of devices, says Philippe Fauchet,
professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Rochester
and co-author of the research. For 50 years, people have been investigating converting simple nuclear decay into usable energy, but the yields were always too low. We've found a way to make the interaction much more efficient, and we hope these findings will lead to a new kind of battery that can pump out energy for years.
A layer of silicon riddled with pits, each of which would fill with the radioactive tritium gas, would be like dropping the sun into a deep well lined with solar panels. Almost all of the suns rays, no matter which way they were emitted, would strike a well wall. Only those rays that fired straight up and out of the well would be lost. With this reasoning, Fauchet devised a method to excavate pits into a microscopic piece of silicon.