A Look into the Atomic Battery that Can Power a Smartphone for 50 Years

Chinese company Betavolt wants to harness radioactive decay to create an atomic battery that can charge smartphones and other devices for half a century with no health threat.

A battery capable of powering the device on which it is mounted for fifty years. The promise of the Chinese company Betavolt is as ambitious as it is attractive. Especially considering how much this component will be required in the coming years to store energy for all those connected and non-connected objects that are becoming indispensable. 

Smaller than a dime, this is an atomic battery that uses the radioactive decay of the isotope Nickel-63 combined with a diamond semiconductor.

Betavolt’s atomic battery has been called BV100 and specifically uses two layers of diamond semiconductor with a thickness of 10 microns each. 

The external casing of this device shields radiation as well as protects the battery. All for a space of 15 x 15 x 15 millimeters, the atomic battery can generate up to 100 microwatts of power and a voltage of 3 volts, but the company is already working on a larger version that it will produce, it says, by 2025.

For now, the focus is on the production of the first version, which could be able to power a smartphone for its entire life, without ever having to recharge it.

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How the Atomic Battery Works

How is it possible? The energy density of the atomic battery is ten times higher than that of a normal lithium battery. The real difference is that this prototype generates energy, not stores it and therefore it is not even subject to charging cycle problems. 

The idea of ​​atomic batteries is actually ancient, having been talked about since the 1950s. Then in 2016, thanks to a new principle that exploits diamond layers and radioactive isotopes, it was possible to take a step forward towards realizing this idea. 

Which also appears to be safe for human health, as well as for the environment: at the end of its activity, Nickel-63 decays into non-radioactive copper and therefore can be disposed of without problems.

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