SBIR Phase II: A Semiconductor Device for Direct and Efficient Conversion of Radioisotope Energy

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 0450338
Agency Tracking Number: 0320029
Amount: $100,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: N/A
Award Year: 2003
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): N/A
Award End Date (Contract End Date): N/A
Small Business Information
12819 Westleigh Drive, Houston, TX, 77077
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Larry Gadeken
 (281) 450-5449
Business Contact
 Larry Gadeken
Title: Dr
Phone: (281) 450-5449
Research Institution
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will fabricate a prototype betavoltaic battery in a form factor the size of a quarter coin. The goal will be to generate approximately 100 microwatts of electrical power in a volume less than half a cubic centimeter from a tritiated energy source. Research conducted for the Phase I portion of this project established the feasibility of constructing a semiconductor device that directly and efficiently converts the energy released from radioactive decay directly into electric current. Three dimensional (3D) diodes were constructed in macroporous silicon by placing p-n junctions along the walls of all the pores. These junctions formed the betavoltaic conversion layer for beta particles (electrons) emitted by gaseous tritium (the radioisotope of hydrogen with a half life of 12.3 years) that was distributed throughout the pore space. Measurements of the current-voltage responses for this novel 3D geometry demonstrated an order of magnitude efficiency increase compared to conventional 2Dplanar diodes. In the 3D diode nearly every decay electron entered the p-n conversion layers. The focus of the Phase II research will be to enhance the performance of the 3D diodes to maximize conversion efficiency. Also, the source energy density will be increased markedly by developing a tritiated solid that can be easily and routinely dispersed in the pore space. This research will lead to the development of a practical nuclear battery. Commercially, betavoltaic batteries will be useful in a wide variety of sensors and devices used for remote and extended missions in many inaccessible locations. Successful commercialization of this nuclear battery with its order of magnitude increase in useful life is to increase significantly the utilization of self-powered devices and sensors. Stringent efforts will be made to ensure the radiological safety of these nuclear batteries at every step in the development, manufacturing and commercialization processes.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

Agency Micro-sites

SBA logo
Department of Agriculture logo
Department of Commerce logo
Department of Defense logo
Department of Education logo
Department of Energy logo
Department of Health and Human Services logo
Department of Homeland Security logo
Department of Transportation logo
Environmental Protection Agency logo
National Aeronautics and Space Administration logo
National Science Foundation logo
US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government