Researchers develop a tiny battery with extra, extra long life
Date: Tuesday, January 14, 2003 @ 00:21:03 GMT
Cornell researchers have built a microscopic device that could supply power for decades to remote sensors or implantable medical devices by drawing energy from a radioactive isotope.
The device converts the energy stored in the isotope directly into motion. It could directly move the parts of a tiny machine or could generate electricity in a form more useful for many circuits than has been possible with earlier devices. This new approach creates a high-impedance source (the factor that determines the amplitude of the current) better suited to power many types of circuits, said Amit Lal, Cornell assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.
Lal, Li and Cornell doctoral candidate Hang Guo are now building and testing practical sensors and power supplies based on the concept. The prototype shown in August was gigantic by comparison with the latest versions, Lal said. An entire device, including a vacuum enclosure, could be made to fit in less than one cubic millimeter, he said.