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Abstract  

The specific energy density from radioactive decay is five to six orders of magnitude greater than the specific energy density in conventional chemical battery and fuel cell technologies. We are currently investigating the use of liquid semiconductor based betavoltaics as a way to directly convert the energy of radioactive decay into electrical power and potentially avoid the radiation damage that occurs in solid state semiconductor devices due to non-ionizing energy loss. Sulfur-35 was selected as the isotope for the liquid semiconductor demonstrations because it can be produced in high specific activity and is chemically compatible with known liquid semiconductor media.

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Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry
Authors: Xiao-Ying Li, Yong Ren, Xue-Jiao Chen, Da-Yong Qiao, and Wei-Zheng Yuan

Abstract  

The design, fabrication, and testing of a 4H-SiC Schottky betavoltaic nuclear battery based on MEMS fabrication technology are presented in this paper. It uses a Schottky diode with an active area of 3.14 mm2 to collect the charge from a 4 mCi/cm2 63Ni source. Some of the critical steps in process integration for fabricating silicon carbide-based Schottky diode were addressed. A prototype of this battery was fabricated and tested under the illumination of the 63Ni source with an activity of 0.12 mCi. An open circuit voltage (V OC) of 0.27 V and a short circuit current density (J SC) of 25.57 nA/cm2 are measured. The maximum output power density (P max) of 4.08 nW/cm2 and power conversion efficiency (η) of 1.01% is obtained. The performance of this battery is expected to be significantly improved by using larger activity and optimizing the design and processing technology of the battery. By achieving comparable performance with previously constructed p–n or p–i–n junction energy conversion structures, the Schottky barrier diode proves to be a feasible approach to achieve practical betavoltaics.

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