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FALL/WINTER 2001-2002

Little batteries pack big power

Technology for an improved view

Faculty profile: Susan Coppersmith

Integrating opposites

Little batteries pack big power

Decorative microphotograph of a

Combining nuclear- and electrical-engineering technologies, a trio of engineers hopes to make independently powered microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) about the size of a grain of sand. Until now, researchers looking for such devices were limited by the comparatively large batteries needed to power them. But Engineering Physics Professors James Blanchard and Douglass Henderson and Electrical and Computer Engineering Assistant Professor Amit Lal have developed "nanobatteries" from minute amounts of coated radioactive material, similar to that in smoke detectors and pacemakers.
Decorative microphotograph of a

The batteries work by harnessing the material's natural radioactive decay, and could last for hundreds of years. The group's research is funded by a three-year, $970,000 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency grant.


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Date last modified: Tuesday, 27-Nov-2001 10:35:00 CST
Date created: 20-Nov-2001 13:19:00

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