Cornell develops radioactive, microscopic battery


— 6:07 PM on November 4, 2002

EE Times is reporting on an interesting new battery technology that uses radioactive isotopes to fuel electronic devices:

ITHACA, N.Y. — Using radioactive isotopes as fuel, a tiny battery developed at Cornell University here could turn out to be an ideal power source for remote sensors or other small-scale systems. Cornell professor Amit Lal used microelectromechanical-systems (MEMS) technology to create a millimeter-size battery that can run for decades. The research team plans to scale the prototype to even smaller dimensions so that it could become a power source for MEMS.
The technology isn't likely to make its way into PDAs anytime soon, but it does show that interesting work is being done on the battery front.

If portable computing is ever to become ubiquitous, battery life really needs to improve. Interestingly enough, PDA manufacturers seem to be moving in the opposite direction. As sexy as impressive processor speeds, lots of memory, and robust multimedia support is for handheld devices, if the battery won't get you through the day, what's the point?

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