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Nuclear Battery That Runs 10 Years

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the never-have-to-recharge-your-ipod dept.

Power 689

Jenny writes "A battery with a lifespan measured in decades is in development at the University of Rochester, as scientists demonstrate a new fabrication method that in its roughest form is already 10 times more efficient than current nuclear batteries -- and has the potential to be nearly 200 times more efficient. Similar to the way solar panels work by catching photons from the sun and turning them into current, the science of betavoltaics uses silicon to capture electrons emitted from a radioactive gas, such as tritium, to form a current. As the electrons strike a special pair of layers called a 'p-n junction,' a current results. I can imagine lots of applications for this new battery including my own laptop."

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Laptop?!? (-1, Offtopic)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520787)

it would be perfect for medical devices like pacemakers, implanted defibrillators, or other implanted devices

Well, I suppose that's ok then, but it won't stop the jokes.

On the other hand, I wouldn't mind some grammar nazi slamming TFA for using "implanted" redundantly and confusingly, as if pacemakers might not all be implanted.

Re:Laptop?!? (1)

baryon351 (626717) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520847)

Yes, in a laptop [danaquarium.com]

Re:Laptop?!? (1)

Axe (11122) | more than 9 years ago | (#12521000)

"Due to government regulations, use of a laptop powered by XCell-N is prohibited in airports, government offices, schools, hospitals, public transport, hotels, residential areas or within 12 miles of food preparation areas.". XCell-N also weighs substantially more than a regular laptop battery, coming in at 7 kilograms (15.4 lbs). While Shephard says they are committed to safety, he does not recommend close exposure to an XCell-N powered laptop for more than 20 minutes a day.

Even as a former nuclear physicist, I do prefer to keep radioactive gases as far away from my lap, as possible.

Re:Laptop?!? (2, Informative)

Pyrrus (97830) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520852)

implanted defibrillators

defibrillators are usually *not* implanted, so it's worth specifying.

Re:Laptop?!? (2, Insightful)

websaber (578887) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520927)

How long until Yukos Mountain becomes choice real estate as we learn to turn waste products in to new sources of energy. Like when natural gas was considered a "waste" product of oil.

Great... (4, Funny)

Jace of Fuse! (72042) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520788)

So now instead of just overheating... my laptop can have a total meltdown?

Re:Great... (3, Funny)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520941)

And if it was in your lap at the time, your nuts would glow.

Re:Great... (1)

hotdiggitydawg (881316) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520984)

Not if it ships with a lead codpiece as a standard accessory...

Re:Great... (5, Funny)

Axe (11122) | more than 9 years ago | (#12521048)

As one my russian friend, who worked in Chernobyl (as a researcher) remembered, that was the favorite rhyme in there, that can be translated.. "If you want to be a father, wrap your balls in lead foil..."

All I can say: ouch.

Re:Great... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12521005)

Cool! I, for one, welcome our new glowing-nuts overlords!

Re:Great... (5, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520970)

I realize you're joking, but just for the record these *can't* go into a "meltdown" state (what is technically termed a prompt critical reaction). Unlike nucelar reactors which function via nuclear fission, these batteries function by capturing the rays from radioactive materials and converting them into energy. The side effect of this is that these batteries tend to be inherently safe because they can't explode and they produce almost no extra radiation (because they're using the radioactivity directly as a power source).

The biggest concern with batteries such as this is actually cost. Radioactive materials are controlled by the government (although anyone with a license can obtain some through various online webstores) and thus have experienced little competition overall. As a result, prices have stayed high.

As I've said before, one solution to this problem is to lease the battery instead of selling it outright. Given its ten year lifespan, the costs can be spread out over that time. When the battery is exhausted, the manufacturer can then reuse the remaining materials in a new battery, thus slowly driving down the prices.

Re:Great... (5, Interesting)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 9 years ago | (#12521051)

Given the paranoid yet incompetent state of security in this country, every single radioactive battery is probably going to get the bearer stopped by the police at some point. Take a radioactive laptop on a plane? -- Stripsearch. Just wait and see. If Homeland Security's detectors currently false-alarm over the natural radioactive potassium isotopes in bananas - yes, bananas! - then these batteries might get the fisheye from these morons.

Careful... (3, Funny)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520790)

If you ever have an iPod with one of these things, don't send it through the washing machine, and then start stabbing it with a screwdriver...

Re:Careful... (2, Funny)

hotdiggitydawg (881316) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520953)

Looks like Apple's going to have to relocate their "iPod service centres" to a bunker many kilometres under the Mojave desert...

next time (3, Interesting)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520791)

Next time your laptop battery runs out, you get to replace the entire laptop.

Re:next time (1)

U1timateZer0 (855425) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520842)

Yes, but by that time; your laptop will be 10 years obsolete, so you won't be too bad off. . .

Re:next time (2, Insightful)

Perl-Pusher (555592) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520957)

I have 10 year old Gateway laptop. It runs windows95, has 64 Mb of memory (Absolute Maximm) a 13Gb hard drive and a Pentium 200 MMX processor. It also has at one time or another had BeOS 4 and RedHat 6.2 on it. It is almost totally useless. It is just a piece of junk I still keep around for god knows why. I never use it. It's battery doesn't hold a charge for more than 2-3 minutes, just long enough to move it from one room to another and plug it in. If I had that battery in a new laptop, I'd probably buy a new laptop long before the battery ran out.

Re:next time (1)

American AC in Paris (230456) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520992)

Next time your laptop battery runs out, you get to replace the entire laptop.

Because the concept of a removable and replaceable tritium battery is simply beyond the scope of modern cognition, right?

That said, raise your hand if you're still regularly using a ten-year-old laptop. Keep your hand up if you'd expect the battery to be the first critical system component to fail after ten years of use.

Non-lethal exposure (5, Interesting)

suso (153703) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520792)

Before going off and thinking that a radioactive battery would be bad because
of toxic exposure through its mere presense, please read this Wikipedia article about Tritium [wikipedia.org] , which explains
that " The low-energy beta radiation from tritium cannot penetrate human skin, so tritium is only dangerous if inhaled or ingested."

So it might make a good candidate for a household battery.

Re:Non-lethal exposure (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520858)

" The low-energy beta radiation from tritium cannot penetrate human skin, so tritium is only dangerous if inhaled or ingested."

Still, I'm not sure that I'd like to have one of these in my laptop, unless it was as a form of permanent contraception.

Re:Non-lethal exposure (1)

suso (153703) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520975)

Fine, don't trust scientific fact with your life. Besides, there are probably more dangerous materials in current household batteries than tritium.

I tried really hard to get the first post and try to stop the hordes of clueless people from posting jokes about nuclear exposure to the crotch, but a silly slowdown on slashdot cost me those crucial few seconds. Plus, I guess people want to be stupid anyways.

Re:Non-lethal exposure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12520879)

so tritium is only dangerous if inhaled

So I suppose you missed the part in TFA where they said that it catches electrons release from Tritium GAS. Why don't you have the first sniff. Mmm kay.

Re:Non-lethal exposure (1)

honcho (69284) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520888)

And what if it's used like the article suggests?

"it would be perfect for medical devices like pacemakers, implanted defibrillators, or other implanted devices that would otherwise require surgery to replace or repair."

Re:Non-lethal exposure (0, Redundant)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520928)

"The low-energy beta radiation from tritium cannot penetrate human skin, so tritium is only dangerous if inhaled or ingested."

Still, if this battery is powering your laptop, would you use the computer on your lap? I really don't want to take any chances in THAT area.

Not a new idea... but a great breakthrough (3, Insightful)

Cyclotron_Boy (708254) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520945)

This is a really exciting breakthrough, but the idea is far from new. The parallel-place electrometer [wikipedia.org] was used in the early days to detect ionizing radiation by knocking off stored charge with the incoming flux of charged particles. This is in a way harnessing the current created by radioactive decay. Modern radiation dosimeters [wikipedia.org] use a similar principle. It was always discussed that if you could simply harness the current of the emitted betas, you would have a useable battery. Until now this wasn't feasible due to the efficiency of capturing those betas and using them as a current source. I can't wait till this is made available to the public.

Re:Non-lethal exposure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12520977)

Still I iwouldn't want to have such a battery any time near me: If you have just a tiny dose of Tritium built into your body, your chances for getting cancer will increase considerably. Plutonium, for example, is also easily shielded (doesn't even penetrate rubber), but I guess no-one want to have that in the household either.

Boom! (0, Redundant)

XenoPhage (242134) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520794)

Ok, so if the iPod explodes as-is with the current battery, what happens with a nuclear cell...

Re:Boom! (1)

miscGeek (594829) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520865)

Huge freaking mushroom cloud? :)

Re:Boom! (2, Funny)

Barryke (772876) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520937)

no, A huge freaking Apple cloud you silly cloth. \o>

Is the lead suit included? (0, Redundant)

Mainframer (530235) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520807)

Just in case for the casual laptop user...

Re:Is the lead suit included? (1)

Legato895 (788993) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520884)

nah, all you need is a lead cup

Re:Is the lead suit included? (3, Interesting)

Goeland86 (741690) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520890)

read post above: tritium radiation is too weak to penetrate human skin.
Tritium does not emit in the gamma range. It emits beta particles (electrons), and neutrinos. Both are harmless to humans, since the electrons are caught to produce current, and neutrinos can go through the entire planet without colliding with a particle.
It's particle physics, but it's not out of the public's understanding. Especially not the /. crowd.

Nuclear Battery+Laptop = Sterile Work Environment! (2, Funny)

drizst 'n drat (725458) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520810)

Naw ... just kidding but think of the added benefits ...

Re:Nuclear Battery+Laptop = Sterile Work Environme (1)

Mariani (700617) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520860)

Like neat glow in the dark effects, hairloss, impotence ... ;o)

Slashdot: Day-before-yesterday's news today! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12520811)

Re:Slashdot: Day-before-yesterday's news today! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12520886)

Don't link to Roland please....

Sterility, here I come! (1, Troll)

MoeMoe (659154) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520815)

I can imagine lots of applications for this new battery including my own laptop.


Sure, who doesn't want to keep volatile nuclear material near their crotch for several hours at a time?

Re:Sterility, here I come! (1)

Enigma_Man (756516) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520934)

I can imagine an even better use: electric automobiles. Run 100,000 miles on a tank of tritium :)

-Jesse

Re:Sterility, here I come! (4, Insightful)

American AC in Paris (230456) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520949)

Sure, who doesn't want to keep volatile nuclear material near their crotch for several hours at a time?

...seeing as a tritium battery would only irradiate you if it broke open, take your pick. Would you rather:

A) Have a freshly-maimed lap full of delicious, toxic, viscous, burning battery acid; or
B) Inhale the rough equivalent of breathing a couple months' worth of naturally-occuring tritium [epa.gov] ?

Take your time. This one's a toughie.

Re:Sterility, here I come! (1)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 9 years ago | (#12521008)

Hey, if there's a market for the DivaCup [divacup.com] ...

Oh Noes--The "N" Word! (5, Informative)

American AC in Paris (230456) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520816)

To help answer some of the imminent "nukular batteries? Isn't that going to kill us all?" questions, here's a sampling from the EPA's webpage on tritium [epa.gov] :

How does tritium affect people's health?

As with all ionizing radiation, exposure to tritium increases the risk of developing cancer. However, tritium is one of the least dangerous radionuclides because it emits very weak radiation and leaves the body relatively quickly. Since tritium is almost always found as water, it goes directly into soft tissues and organs. The associated dose to these tissues are generally uniform and dependent on the tissues' water content.

How does tritium change in the environment?

Tritium readily forms water when exposed to oxygen. As it undergoes radioactive decay, tritium emits a very weak beta particle and transforms to stable, nonradioactive helium. Tritium has a half-life of 12.3 years.

How do people come in contact with tritium?

People are exposed to small amounts of tritium every day, since it is widely dispersed in the environment and in the food chain. People who live near or work in federal weapons facilities or nuclear fuel cycle facilities may have increased exposure. People working in research laboratories may also come in contact with tritium.

How does tritium get into the body?

Tritium primarily enters the body when people swallow tritiated water. People may also inhale tritium as a gas in the air, and absorb it through their skin.

What does tritium do once it gets into the body?

Tritium is almost always found as water, or "tritiated" water. Once tritium enters the body, it disperses quickly and is uniformly distributed throughout the body. Tritium is excreted through the urine within a month or so after ingestion. Organically bound tritium (tritium that is incorporated in organic compounds) can remain in the body for a longer period.

Re:Oh Noes--The "N" Word! (2, Funny)

faqmaster (172770) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520978)

Parent is right: Don't worry about those old and busted boogey men.

Just try to imagine getting through airport security with a nuclear battery. Although maybe if you hid it under the gun in your carry on they wouldn't find it.

Re:Oh Noes--The "N" Word! (1)

erwass (665113) | more than 9 years ago | (#12521006)

You missed the best part

What is the treatment for tritium ingestion

Drink lots of beer. No...really it is. (or at least was once upon a time)

I'd hate to see what would have (1, Funny)

Clockwurk (577966) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520820)

happened to that kid if he tried to fix his ipod with one of these in it.

This is too dangerous (1, Funny)

EpsCylonB (307640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520821)

Think about terrorism, this technology is unamerican.

mod parent up (1)

Barryke (772876) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520969)

Its true, these things won't ever be safe to hand out to the public.
But that probably wont be the case anyway.

Pffft. (1)

mandrake*rpgdx (650221) | more than 9 years ago | (#12521013)

What isn't unAmerican these days? Damn terrorists ruining all of our fun. :(

betavoltaics? (5, Funny)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520822)

Betavoltaics? I'll wait until this radioactive battery is more... stable.

A new application immediately springs to mind... (0, Offtopic)

crumbz (41803) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520826)

....a combination laptop/birth control device. Where is a patent attorney when I need one?

Re:A new application immediately springs to mind.. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12520947)

....a combination laptop/birth control device.

Nevermind birth control... I would finally have the means to create superbabies!

All this and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12520829)

it's only a wee bit dangerous to all living organisms including cockroaches.

Will it sell? (2, Insightful)

miyako (632510) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520831)

I just wonder, no matter how efficient, safe, and cheap this thing can be, if it will ever sell. Nuclear tech seems to be kind of a boogeyman still. How long until Fox or the SciFi channel makes a Made for TV movie about someone's pace maker having a meltdown and taking out 2/3 of north america.

Re:Will it sell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12520931)

Nuclear tech seems to be kind of a boogeyman still.

What sorta boogeyman we talking about here? Like your standard closet-dwelling boogeyman or a new breed of zombified radioactive boogeyman with two heads?

Standard anti-boogeyman tactics are goin' to have to change with this new threat of triple headed boogeyman or boogeymen for that matter. Perhaps we should get Roboogeyert MaNamara to simplify the coming boogeyman threat with some equations.

Boogeyman hate equations.

Re:Will it sell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12521023)

incorrect, no one gives a shit about nuclear anything anymore. those "fears" never mattered much and they really can be disregarded now as people who are simply crackpots.

Many uses? (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520833)

I can imagine lots of applications for this new battery including my own laptop.

Yeah. Just don't try to take it on a plane.

Nooooooo!!! (3, Insightful)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520834)

Have we learned nothing. Calling it a nuclear (or nucular) battery will only ensure it's complete and total failure.

Re:Nooooooo!!! (1)

Enigma_Man (756516) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520896)

Right! They should call it a Beta-Battery, like as indicated in the info, or something like that, so it sounds happy and friendly, and the hippies won't catch on.

-Jesse

mmm.... warm lap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12520838)

Nice - I can keep warm and cozy on my chair with my new laptop that runs for years on a single charge. Is it worth the enlarged prostate and impotence? Damn straight!

AKA (3, Informative)

ZagNuts (789429) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520848)

special pair of layers called a 'p-n junction'

The p-n junction is sometimes called by its more technical name: the "diode".

Re:AKA (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12520959)

I thought the letter O was what joined P and N

Re:AKA (1)

badfrog (45310) | more than 9 years ago | (#12521058)


Dang, beaten to it. I actually managed to remember something from high school physics class!

Good luck... (1)

Nimloth (704789) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520851)

I can imagine lots of applications for this new battery including my own laptop.
Good luck bringing that nuclear laptop on a plane with you...

Tough call... (2, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520853)


I can imagine lots of applications for this new battery including my own laptop

That a calculated risk: will you end up sterile and impotent or the proud wielder of a 14 inch hammer...

Nucular (1, Funny)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520864)

Its pronounced "nu-cu-lar"

Re:Nucular (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12520996)

...just like Jimmy Carter, GWB, and half my Physics professors pronounced it.

hmmm (0, Redundant)

justforaday (560408) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520866)

Sounds good. Just don't let that kid in Australia anywhere near one...

laptop use? doubt it. (3, Informative)

rokzy (687636) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520869)

nuclear decay is a completely spontaneous process. the only way to get more beta particles is to have more radioactive material. long lasting does not mean lots of power.

this reminds me of an essay I read by a second year physics student that nanotechnology would allow us to run 10GHz computers for 10 years off a watch battery. it's BS but you don't need to look at the technology to see that, it's just basic thermodynamics:

law 1. you can't win
law 2. you can't break even.
law 3. you can't get out of the game.

Re'laptop use?doubt it' Just to help you out..FTA (1)

Fox_1 (128616) | more than 9 years ago | (#12521020)

Betavoltaics, the method that the new battery uses, has been around for half a century, but its usefulness was limited due to its low energy yields. The new battery technology makes its successful gains by dramatically increasing the surface area where the current is produced.
The Advanced Materials paper details how these wells were dug in a random fashion, yielding a 10-fold increase in current over the conventional design. The team is already working on a technique to create and line the wells in a much more uniform, lattice formation that should increase the energy produced by as much as 160-fold over current technology.

It was all in the article, they aren't increasing the number of particles but the number that actually get intercepted and used to generate energy. Did you read that essay the same way?

Re: Laws of Thermodynamics (1)

Baron_Yam (643147) | more than 9 years ago | (#12521042)

My father has always told me those three laws regarded relationships with women.

Imagine the marketing meeting.. (3, Funny)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520871)

"So ladies and gentlemen - here we have it; a high-tech battery that lasts many times longer than those made with current technology, a clean and efficient power source for the 21st century - ideal for all sorts of gadgets and items essential for the executive on the move! Just one small thing - how do we convince power laptop users to accept having a radioactive source approximately 2" away from their testicles? Anyone?"

Re:Imagine the marketing meeting.. (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 9 years ago | (#12521046)

Simple. Get Clay Aiken as the spokesperson:

"Hey, after repeated exposure to the new betavoltaic battery on the Lenovo Thinkpad, you'll be able to sing just like me!"

Laptops (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520873)

I can imagine lots of applications for this new battery including my own laptop

As if the existing laptops are not bad enough for putting on your lap! After Chernobyl there was a joke in Russia - "if you want to become a father, encase your ____ in lead".

Good Luck... (1)

robinthecandystore (65190) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520875)

... Getting that laptop through Airport Security!

Pacemaker (1)

Barryke (772876) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520887)

Perfect.
I want one in my pacemaker [engadget.com] !

Not on my lap (2, Funny)

datadriven (699893) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520897)

I can imagine lots of applications for this new battery including my own laptop.

I'm not sure I'd want a nuclear battery on my lap. Maybe that's just me.

Low sperm count (1)

TeeDub (746223) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520903)

And you thought men had worries about this before?

Bout Time (2, Insightful)

waterlogged (210759) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520905)

Its about time we start turning this direction for portable power needs. If certain "agencies" and media outlets would quit spreading misinformation and lies about these viable power sources then maybe we could make some real progress in the lack in the portable power dept. The densities that we are currently capable of, pale in comparison with today's needs. This would be just the ticket if the PR were handled correctly.

Just my thoughts..... Nothing to see here.

.

I CALL BULLSHIT! (0, Offtopic)

justforaday (560408) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520910)

C'mon, a slashdot reader named Jenny?

Re:I CALL BULLSHIT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12520966)

Next /. post should come from wet_bikini_clad_temptress thus satisfying all our nerdly needs to get off on simple text rather than real women.

Re:I CALL BULLSHIT! (1)

Perl-Pusher (555592) | more than 9 years ago | (#12521011)

kenny before the surgery.

Special Layers (2, Informative)

I am the Bullgod (797123) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520916)

"As the electrons strike a special pair of layers called a 'p-n junction,..."

Those special layers are in every diode (including LEDs) in the universe.

this is great (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12520923)

It can give energy for 10 years, but if it gets ^^^^ed up, it gives harmful radiation for 100?
Sounds great.

I bet it takes 2 years to recharge... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12520929)

...and you'll still need to change the battery on a coast-to-coast flight to Uranus.

Future slashdot headline (3, Funny)

OverflowingBitBucket (464177) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520938)

Okay, I've made some adjustments to a previous story to cope with this new technology. Just a few words.

Apple: iPod Dangerous When Wet

Posted by CowboyNeal on Friday May 13, @05:43AM
from the potential-hazards dept.

somefutureslashdotter writes "What do you do when your mom washes your iPod? Fix it, of course. A teenager in Australia found out the hard way that messing with the insides of his iPod is dangerous and needed to be pieced together from basic components after it exploded, leveling several city blocks."

Re:Future slashdot comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12521053)

somefutureslashdotcommentator writes "I called this Ipod Nuclear Armageddon weeks ago. Clearly my suberbly large brain in this pasty white earthly vessel is far superior to all you other /.'ers. Bow down and worship me in this post-apocalyptic world where our brains have radioactively evolved psychic abilities to levitate our keyboards, we worship a once used nuclear Ipod and the statue of Roland Piquepaille carrying a large torch is covered up on a beach. YOu bastards you killed them all."

Nuclear Battery That Runs 10 Years (1)

Darvin (878219) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520940)

Ok, these things last for 10 years? But how long will it take for me to charge these little buggers?

Similar work: Power source using radioactive decay (2, Informative)

karvind (833059) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520946)

Earlier story on slashdot about Cornell work on atomic MEMS [slashdot.org]

Hmmm... Tritium (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520952)

Wasn't Tritium the cause of that warehouse collapse in New York last year? I seem to recall that some vehicles were pulled to the source and there was a small weather disturbance as well.

Are you kidding? (0, Troll)

jmcmunn (307798) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520964)


"I can imagine lots of applications for this new battery including my own laptop."

I think I'll keep all of that radioactive stuff as far away from the family jewels as I can...thank you very much.

Re:Are you kidding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12521045)

OK, let's talk shielding: an excerpt from http://hps.org/publicinformation/ate/q1094.html [hps.org]

Most beta radiation from radioactive materials will require less than one-half inch of paper or plastic to stop it. Less than one-tenth of an inch of lead would be required to stop the same beta particles, although we frequently do not use lead or other materials that have high atomic numbers for routine beta shielding because of a secondary process that occurs when beta radiation interacts in the vicinity of the nuclei of atoms. This process is called bremsstrahlung radiation production and results in bremsstrahlung x rays being produced (the process is actually similar to what occurs in the production of x rays in an x-ray tube when electrons are made to bombard a high-atomic-number target material). The bremsstrahlung production process increases with increasing atomic number of the material. The x rays are more difficult to shield against than the beta particles and, as a consequence, we often choose to use lower-atomic-number materials, such as plastic, to shield beta radiation.

Pricy Battery (1)

Volfied (307532) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520971)

If I'm not mistaken, tritium is, pound for pound, the most expensive material on the planet. I wasn't able to find the figures, but I would imagine that the amount of tritium needed to power a battery would cost a pretty penny.

No Nukes (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520985)

How about a more practical battery, working now? Sanyo and IBM have announced their ThinkPad fuelcell [sanyo.co.jp] (demo video [wmtcool-st...ease300wmv] ). They claim 8h of video editing (or other powerhungry apps).

For those worried about Tritium (1)

AviLazar (741826) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520998)

The military uses tritium in Lensatic compasses and it poses no harm. Though the running joke is that no guy should put one next to his crotch.

It's been a year or two.... (1)

kramer (19951) | more than 9 years ago | (#12521012)

But isn't tritium the gas that turns a several kiloton nuclear weapon into a several megaton nuclear weapon? (i.e. turning a "conventional" nuclear weapon into an H-bomb)

big corporations (0)

vikingwarrior (883803) | more than 9 years ago | (#12521021)

the problem is these will never go into production as companies would stop making money from selling electricity(to charge up batteries) or selling new batteries(in the case of disposables) unless of course they are so expensive to the consumer that companies can make enough money from them not to care about long term income.

i once remember a teacher telling me that a guy invented and a near 100% efficient bearing. the rights wee bought by a large company because without people buying replacement bearings they would lose a large ammount of their income. whether or not that is true, its still relevant.

damn the system!

not much detail (2, Informative)

warrior (15708) | more than 9 years ago | (#12521025)

There's not much detail in TFA on how it works. FYI a pn junction is nothing new, it's aka a diode, and is the basis of other more complicated semiconductor structures (FETs, BJTs). Does anyone know how this works? I'd imagine it's similar to the way a BJT works. In a BJT, two pn junctions join to make pnp or npn bipolar transistors, the n or p in the middle is the base and it is a very thin layer. Injecting a small amount of charge in the base causes electrons to diffuse across one of the pn junctions (of of them is doped differently than the other). The base is thin enough that before the electrons can recombine they are swept across the other junction. In this manner you get very high current gains -- a small base current results in a much larger current in your bjt. Anyone know anymore about the battery tech in the article?

The Robots will love this (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#12521040)

how else would the armies of killer robots achieve world domination without this?

[seriously, you UR guys rock! cool lab techs]

It can't power your laptop (1)

davide marney (231845) | more than 9 years ago | (#12521047)

As the the commercial site [betabatt.com] notes, the power levels are too low to power a laptop directly. BetaBatteries would be paired with normal chemical batteries. The BetaBattery is an always-on, trickle charger, and the chemical battery handles the heavy load.

Not a perfect solution, but it means you'd never have to recharge your laptop ever again.

Explosion is free of cost. Terrorists buy 1 get 1 (1)

vensub (197488) | more than 9 years ago | (#12521054)

EOM
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