If this works out, a new nuclear battery may prove revolutionary. Excerpt:
Russian researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), the Technological Institute for Superhard and Novel Carbon Materials (TISNCM), and the National University of Science and Technology MISIS have optimized the design of a nuclear battery generating power from the beta decay of nickel-63, a radioactive isotope. Their new battery prototype packs about 3,300 milliwatt-hours of energy per gram, which is more than in any other nuclear battery based on nickel-63, and 10 times more than the specific energy of commercial chemical cells. The paper was published in the journal Diamond and Related Materials.
Here’s the kicker:
The work reported in this story has prospects for medical applications. Most state-of-the-art cardiac pacemakers are over 10 cubic centimeters in size and require about 10 microwatts of power. This means that the new nuclear battery could be used to power these devices without any significant changes to their design and size. “Perpetual pacemakers” whose batteries need not be replaced or serviced would improve the quality of life of patients.
This is my industry, True Believers, and believe you me, a battery like this would have an enormous impact on quality of life for patients with long-term implants. Not just pacemakers – spinal cord stimulators, insulin pumps, intrathecal drug pumps, deep-brain stimulators, all are dependent on implanted batteries that now have to be changed regularly. That’s an invasive surgical procedure to change that battery, mind you, with the risks and hospital stays that entails.
If someone could produce a more powerful battery that might last the better part of a patient’s lifetime, that’s world-changing for people whose life and comfort depend on these devices.