Summary
An atomic battery, nuclear battery, radioisotope battery or radioisotope generator is a device which uses energy from the decay of a radioactive isotope to generate electricity. Like nuclear reactors, they generate electricity from nuclear energy, but differ in that they do not use a chain reaction. Although commonly called batteries, they are technically not electrochemical and cannot be charged or recharged. They are very costly, but have an extremely long life and high energy density, and so they are typically used as power sources for equipment that must operate unattended for long periods of time, such as spacecraft, pacemakers, underwater systems and automated scientific stations in remote parts of the world. Nuclear battery technology began in 1913, when Henry Moseley first demonstrated a current generated by charged particle radiation. The field received considerable in-depth research attention for applications requiring long-life power sources for space needs during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1954 RCA researched a small atomic battery for small radio receivers and hearing aids. Since RCA's initial research and development in the early 1950s, many types and methods have been designed to extract electrical energy from nuclear sources. The scientific principles are well known, but modern nano-scale technology and new wide-bandgap semiconductors have created new devices and interesting material properties not previously available. Nuclear batteries can be classified by energy conversion technology into two main groups: thermal converters and non-thermal converters. The thermal types convert some of the heat generated by the nuclear decay into electricity. The most notable example is the radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG), often used in spacecraft. The non-thermal converters extract energy directly from the emitted radiation, before it is degraded into heat. They are easier to miniaturize and do not require a thermal gradient to operate, so they are suitable for use in small-scale applications.
About this result
This page is automatically generated and may contain information that is not correct, complete, up-to-date, or relevant to your search query. The same applies to every other page on this website. Please make sure to verify the information with EPFL's official sources.
Related publications

No results

Related people

No results

Related units

No results

Related concepts (28)
Thermionic converter
A thermionic converter consists of a hot electrode which thermionically emits electrons over a potential energy barrier to a cooler electrode, producing a useful electric power output. Caesium vapor is used to optimize the electrode work functions and provide an ion supply (by surface ionization or electron impact ionization in a plasma) to neutralize the electron space charge. From a physical electronic viewpoint, thermionic energy conversion is the direct production of electric power from heat by thermionic electron emission.
Plutonium
Plutonium is a radioactive chemical element with the symbol Pu and atomic number 94. It is an actinide metal of silvery-gray appearance that tarnishes when exposed to air, and forms a dull coating when oxidized. The element normally exhibits six allotropes and four oxidation states. It reacts with carbon, halogens, nitrogen, silicon, and hydrogen. When exposed to moist air, it forms oxides and hydrides that can expand the sample up to 70% in volume, which in turn flake off as a powder that is pyrophoric.
Atomic battery
An atomic battery, nuclear battery, radioisotope battery or radioisotope generator is a device which uses energy from the decay of a radioactive isotope to generate electricity. Like nuclear reactors, they generate electricity from nuclear energy, but differ in that they do not use a chain reaction. Although commonly called batteries, they are technically not electrochemical and cannot be charged or recharged.
Show more
Related courses (3)
PHYS-451: Radiation and reactor experiments
The reactor experiments course aims to introduce the students to radiation detection techniques and nuclear reactor experiments. The core of the course is the unique opportunity to conduct reactor exp
PHYS-450: Radiation biology, protection and applications
This is an introductory course in radiation physics that aims at providing students with foundation in radiation protection and with information about the main applications of radioactive sources/subs
PHYS-452: Radiation detection
The course presents the detection of ionizing radiation in the keV and MeV energy ranges. Physical processes of radiation/matter interaction are introduced. All steps of detection are covered, as well
Related lectures (19)
Radiation Biology: Basics and Applications
Covers the basics of radiation detection, energy deposition, and applications in various fields.
Wavefunction Engineering: Quantum Holography and Electron Control
Explores wavefunction engineering, quantum holography, electron control, and nuclear reactions manipulation.
Radiotracer Techniques
Covers radiotracer techniques, including basics, applications, detection, handling, and industrial applications, with a focus on flow studies and industrial processes.
Show more
Related MOOCs

No results