FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

"BetaBatteries" Could Last for Decades

A team of researchers supported by the National Science Foundation's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program have reportedly developed a porous-silicon diode that converts very low levels of tritium radiation into electricity. The result is a "BetaBattery" that has an extraordinarily long life.

Because the tritium, a radioactive hydrogen isotope, is embedded in the battery's plastic, there's no risk of radioactive contamination from the device. And though they might be a hard sell to people looking to juice up their iPods or cell phones, BetaBatteries have clear applications in hard-to-service devices such as satellites and climate-monitoring equipment. An added benefit to BetaBatteries is their ruggedness, operating in temperature extremes from -148°F to 302°F.

Because the tritium decays so slowly, BetaBatteries can theoretically provide power for decades -- possibly outliving the devices they were meant to run.

Sources: Eurekalert, Roland Piquepaille's Tech Trends