Tuesday, October 13, 2009

University of Missouri Researchers Make Progress on Developing a Nuclear Battery

Here's a potentially promising way of using nuclear energy that is progressing on the research and development front:

Kwon and his research team have been working on building a small nuclear battery, currently the size and thickness of a penny, intended to power various micro/nanoelectromechanical systems (M/NEMS). Although nuclear batteries can pose concerns, Kwon said they are safe.

“People hear the word ‘nuclear’ and think of something very dangerous,” he said. “However, nuclear power sources have already been safely powering a variety of devices, such as pace-makers, space satellites and underwater systems.”

His innovation is not only in the battery’s size, but also in its semiconductor. Kwon’s battery uses a liquid semiconductor rather than a solid semiconductor.

“The critical part of using a radioactive battery is that when you harvest the energy, part of the radiation energy can damage the lattice structure of the solid semiconductor,” Kwon said. “By using a liquid semiconductor, we believe we can minimize that problem.”
Best of luck to the MU researchers and hat tip to Next Big Future who we've been reading for quite some time and realized he wasn't even on our blogroll yet! Now he is.


SteveK9 said...

Would be nice to have a sentence describing (basically) how this works.

David Bradish said...

Yes that would be nice. It looks like you could buy one of their research papers on the subject here fairly cheaply.

tmarks11 said...

The research paper is available here:

NextBigFuture Nuclear Battery