Scientists from Russia’s National Research Technological University "MISiS" have developed a prototype of a nuclear battery, which is significantly cheaper than analogues, the corporate newspaper of the State Corporation Rosatom said on 14 October.
The battery consists of two components: the first is a semiconductor converter, the second is a radioactive substance. The energy released by the radioisotope is converted into electrical current. The radioactive isotope nickel-63, on which most of the developers of atomic batteries rely, is chosen as the emitter. Its half-life is 100 years.
The innovative solution is in the unique 3D structure of the battery. Most developers put the isotope on top of the flat surface of the semiconductor, and as a result, it radiates in all directions, the university scientists placed the isotope inside the semiconductor, in microchannels, so that the energy is not wasted.
The transducer is not made of diamond, but of cheap silicon. The battery itself is three times smaller than its counterparts, its power density is ten times higher, and its cost is half as much. The developed converter costs only RUB300 ($3.8), but the battery is still very expensive because of the high cost of nickel-63 (about $4000 per gram), so there are as yet no offers to start mass production using the MISIS technology.
“We carried out experiments with nickel-63 with a minimum activity of 2.7 mCi: we do not have conditions and a licence to work with high-activity radioactive substances at our university. We are looking for a partner who will help us carry out experiments. I think it could be Rosatom enterprises - the nuclear centres in Sarov and Snezhinsk or Mayak", explained project manager, professor Viktor Murashev.
Potential areas of application for atomic batteries are space technology, medicine (in particular, power sources for cardio and other biostimulants), telecommunications equipment, products of the military-industrial complex, industrial facilities and infrastructure.