Radioisotope Power Source for Long-Lived Sensors and Communications

Period of Performance: 08/17/2015 - 02/16/2016


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Widetronix, Inc.
ITHACA, NY 14850
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


Developments in ultra-low power computing are creating new opportunities for long-lived unattended sensors and network communications nodes. To achieve operational objectives, the DoD has realized that new power sources are required with lifetimes that exceed 20 years. Even under optimal conditions, state-of-the-art, commercially available power-storage devices (i.e., chemical batteries) have life-spans that rarely reach 10 years. This lifespan is substantially shortened in the face of temperature extremes and frequent duty cycling. Widetronix is commercializing betavoltaic power sources to provide extended operational lifetimes for low-power applications in defense, medical, and industrial monitoring applications. The company is targeting power outputs for these applications ranging from 5 to 25 ?W/cm2. The goal of this Phase 1 proposal is to demonstrate a viable pathway for developing a commercially feasible 100 ?W, 20 year betavoltaic power source. By improving betavoltaic power density substantial cost reductions can be achieved, making incorporation into the DoD supply chain a reality. In Phase I Widetronix will increase the power density by improving the beta flux from a tritium source and increase the die size of a SiC betavoltaic. These improvements will be incorporated into Widetronix?s textured betavoltaic devices for Phase II, which will enable the company to achieve its cost target of $10/?W 20 years.