High Efficiency Betavoltaic Cells

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sussex
Department Name: Sch of Engineering and Informatics

Abstract

Market demand for low-power miniature electronics is increasing rapidly with long-lasting (>10 years) power sources required for implantable electronic medical devices (such as neurostimulators to alleviate the effects of Parkinson's disease) and miniaturised sensors e.g. for structural health monitoring in inaccessible and extreme environments. Li-ion batteries have revolutionised portable electronics, but they cannot always meet the environmental, energy density or battery life requirements for some of the most demanding applications. Semiconductor devices for betavoltaic energy generation (the direct conversion of energy from beta particles emitted from radioisotope sources to electricity) can overcome these problems, but existing betavoltaic technology suffers limitations; the devices either suffer from poor efficiency when used with desirable and safe low energy beta emitters such as Tritium, or employ complex designs and structures which are difficult to mass produce commercially.

This project will capitalise on previous STFC funded radiation detector research to develop new betavoltaic batteries which overcome the limitations associated with existing betavoltaics and are suitable for a wide range of commercial and scientific applications. Alongside the scientific development, a major component of this project is the development of a commercialisation plan for the technology in order to fully realise the benefits of the work and enable the rapid commercial and scientific exploitation of the technology.

Publications

10 25 50
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Butera S (2017) Temperature effects on gallium arsenide 63Ni betavoltaic cell. in Applied radiation and isotopes : including data, instrumentation and methods for use in agriculture, industry and medicine

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Butera S (2016) Al 0.52 In 0.48 P 55 Fe x-ray-photovoltaic battery in Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics

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Butera S (2018) 6 µ m thick AlInP 55 Fe x-ray photovoltaic and 63 Ni betavoltaic cells in Semiconductor Science and Technology

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Butera S (2016) AlGaAs 55Fe X-ray radioisotope microbattery. in Scientific reports

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Butera S (2016) Gallium arsenide 55 Fe X-ray-photovoltaic battery in Journal of Applied Physics

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Butera S (2016) Temperature dependence of an AlInP 63 Ni betavoltaic cell in Journal of Applied Physics

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Lioliou G (2015) Electronic noise in charge sensitive preamplifiers for X-ray spectroscopy and the benefits of a SiC input JFET in Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment

 
Description The start of the art of radioisotope microbatteries has been advanced.
The TRL has been raised.
The UK now has research activity in this area.
Exploitation Route Much of the work has been published, and more will be published.
Links with commercial and governmental organisations have been created to utilise the technology.
Work is continuing.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy

 
Description The work has been/is of interest to commercial and governmental organisations
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Radioisotope Microbatteries IPS
Amount £450,000 (GBP)
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2016 
End 08/2019
 
Description Collaboration with University of Nottingham on Radioisotope Microbatteries 
Organisation University of Nottingham
Department School of Psychology Nottingham
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Sussex: Design and characterisation of devices.
Collaborator Contribution Nottingham: Materials growth, fabrication.
Impact No outputs yet from this collaboration.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Collaboration with e2v on Radioisotope Microbatteries 
Organisation e2v Technologies
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Sussex: device design and characterisation
Collaborator Contribution e2v: commercial expertise
Impact no outputs yet
Start Year 2016
 
Title NUCLEAR MICROBATTERY 
Description A nuclear microbattery is disclosed comprising: a radioactive material that emits photons or particles; and at least one diode comprising a semiconductor material arranged to receive and absorb photons or particles and generate electrical charge-carriers in response thereto, wherein said semiconductor material is a crystalline lattice structure comprising Aluminium, Indium and Phosphorus. 
IP Reference CA3070559 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2019
Licensed No
Impact Patent applied for in: US, UK, EU, China, India, Russia, and Brazil
 
Title NUCLEAR MICROBATTERY 
Description A nuclear microbattery is disclosed comprising: a radioactive material that emits photons or particles; and at least one diode comprising a semiconductor material arranged to receive and absorb photons or particles and generate electrical charge-carriers in response thereto, wherein said semiconductor material is a crystalline lattice structure comprising Aluminium, Indium and Phosphorus. 
IP Reference WO2019016574 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2019
Licensed No
Impact Patents applied for in: UK, USA, Canada, China, India, Russia