Electronic devices are becoming smaller, more connected, and more powerful; and they still have one thing in common: they need energy to function. Even miniature implantable medical devices and remote Internet-of-Things sensors need some amount of power to run, making it a challenge to design equally small, efficient, and durable batteries for them.
One of the alternatives that could potentially be the answer to these problems is the “betavoltaic cell.” These cells are a type of power source akin to photovoltaic cells that, instead of producing an electric current by capturing visible or ultraviolet light, creates electricity using a type of radiation (beta decay) generated internally by a radioactive material. The biggest issue with existing betavoltaic cells is their low conversion efficiency. This means that only a