Radioactive Battery Could Keep Your Future Phone Running for 50 Years

A new nuclear battery created by a Chinese company might power your phone for 50 years with no need to be charged.

At 15 x 15 x 5 mm, Betavolt Technology says it has successfully shrunk atomic energy batteries. Through the process of radioactive decay, the small battery produces 100 microwatts and a voltage of 3V using 63 nuclear isotopes.

The battery is presently undergoing pilot testing, and Betavolt intends to mass-produce it for commercial devices like phones and drones. However, the company also notes that nuclear batteries could be used in micro-robots, medical equipment, aeronautical equipment, artificial intelligence, and advanced sensors. The Beijing-based startup says that gadgets like satellites and pacemakers served as inspiration.

By 2025, Betavolt hopes to advance its technology and create a 1-watt battery. Even if there is still more work to be done, the company is confident in its progress, claiming that it is far ahead of scientific research institutions and enterprises in Europe and America.

By eliminating the need for portable power banks and chargers, this technology has the potential to transform electronics by producing gadgets that are always powered on and whose batteries do not lose capacity or lifespan over repeated charging cycles like Lithium-ion batteries do.

In contrast to some current batteries, which can be dangerous if damaged or subjected to high temperatures, Betavolt claims that the BV100 will not catch fire or explode in reaction to punctures or even bullets.

Unending power could enable the use of autonomous drones, perpetually powered phones, and rechargeable electric vehicles.

Nowadays, nuclear batteries are employed in autonomous scientific stations, spacecraft, underwater systems, and vehicles such as the Mars rover. However, nuclear batteries are costly, big, heavy, and produce a lot of heat. But according to Betavolt, it has taken a different tack.

The scientists at Betavolt employed the radioactive element nickel-63 as the energy source and diamond semiconductors as energy converters to develop the radioactive battery.

The researchers produced a single-crystal diamond semiconductor that is just 10 microns thick and then inserted a 2-micron-thick nickel-63 sheet between two diamond semiconductor converters.

The radioactive source's decay energy is subsequently transformed into an electrical current.

The advantages of Betavolt's atomic energy batteries, according to the company, are their small weight, long service life, high energy density, and ability to function correctly at extremely hot or cold temperatures (-60°C to 120°C).

The modular architecture allows for the connection of many atomic batteries to produce a bigger energy output, which, among other things, might power AI systems and automobile technologies.

It makes sense that many individuals wouldn't want to carry radioactive material in their pockets. Their reluctance comes from events like the Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters.

In response to any radiation-related concerns from customers, Betavolt said the battery is safe for medical equipment inside the human body, such as pacemakers and cochlea implants, because it emits no external radiation.

According to Betavolt, the 63 nuclear isotopes decay to form copper, which is non-radioactive and poses no damage to the environment.

Although it seems like something out of science fiction, this technology has the potential to revolutionize electronics by enabling always-on, unwired devices that could spark a new wave of nuclear energy consumption. It will be interesting to see whether China can overtake the West in this area.

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