A Chinese company called Betavolt Technology developed a tiny nuclear battery that can power smartphones and other devices for up to 50 years without recharging. The battery uses a radioactive nickel isotope and a diamond semiconductor to generate electricity from the decay of the isotope.
Betavolt Technology claims the battery, which measures 15x15x5 cubic millimeters, can deliver 100 microwatts of power and a voltage of 3V. It has a high energy density of 3,300 megawatt-hours per gram, which is 10 times higher than conventional lithium batteries. It also has no degradation or cycle issues and can operate in harsh environments and loads.
Of course, the issue with anything nuclear is the radioactivity and waste material. However, the company claims its product is safe and environmentally friendly, as it does not produce any external radiation or toxic chemicals. The nickel isotope breaks down into copper, which is harmless.
The nuclear battery technology was first used in the 20th century by scientists in the Soviet Union and the United States for space and underwater applications. However, these usually have high costs and are huge and bulky, as well as use dangerous radioactive materials. Betavolt Technology said it has overcome these challenges by using a cheaper and safer isotope and a layer of artificial diamond, which acts as a semiconductor and a shield.
Betavolt said its nuclear batteries can be used for various applications, such as medical devices, artificial intelligence, robots, drones, and consumer electronics including smartphones.