Radiation interaction with materials can have beneficial uses, such as in radioisotope power sources where the ionizing particles provide a direct energy source for conversion into electricity; similar to photovoltaic cells. Radioisotope power sources in the past did not succeed: limited low power applications, rapid semi-conductor degradation, availability and cost of suitable radioisotopes. Now, the power generated is compatible with present electronic devices. Novel and compelling need-based applications for long-life radioisotope power sources are emerging in the military, intelligence, commercial and medical markets. However, the net efficiency is still below 10% due to the isotropic emission and self-shielding losses in the source, electron-hole recombination and interactions of a beta particle. Evaluating the effects of beta particle interaction with a p-n junction is the key to optimizing a betavoltaic cell design. The radioisotope source needs to be safe, robust and affordable; a design using tritium and a modified silicon structure could offer a comprehensive and optimal advance to the state-of-the art.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.