Researchers create smaller, lighter and more efficient Nuclear Battery

Technology.am (Oct. 8, 2009) — University of Missouri researchers are developing a nuclear energy source that is smaller, lighter and more efficient.

Kwon_Jae_Wan“To provide enough power, we need certain methods with high energy density,” said Jae Kwon, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at MU.

“The radioisotope battery can provide power density that is six orders of magnitude higher than chemical batteries.”

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).

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.”

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