Nanotechnology is a rapidly developing field, and as engineers strive to create working machines at a nanoid level they are begining to explore technologies for micro power
supplies, and Betavoltaic technology is fast emerging as a likely solution.
A number of technologies have being studied since the
early 1990ís. Microcombustion based energy generation
and micro-fuel-cells aim to convert the mechanical, thermal
and chemical energy into electricity. These technologies require external energy to drive the
engine and to supply fuel, or to
ignite the chemical reaction for energy conversion. Micro
chemical batteries (lithium batteries) can suffer from low energy density and
lifetime. Micro solar cell arrays, of course, require light.
Betavoltaic cells, on the other hand, have a number of advantages:
A higher energy density compared with chemical fuels.
• A long lifetime operation due to an extremely long half-lifetime.
• Radioisotopes can be formed in thin films, allowing integration
directly into MEMS with little additional volume requirement. The battery becomes a micropart of the system.