Design of Alpha-Voltaic Power Source Using Americium-241 (241Am) and Diamond with a Power Density of 10 mW/cm3

Report No. ARL-TR-8189
Authors: John Langley, Marc Litz, Johnny Russo, William Ray Jr
Date/Pages: October 2017; 38 pages
Abstract: Long-lived isotope power sources can provide remotely located sensors and communications nodes with decades of power. Beta-voltaic power sources have been developed for the nanowatt and microwatt power levels. The use of alpha emitters (alpha–voltaics) would increase the energy output by a factor of 100 using the same size, weight, and packaging. Wide band-gap radiation-tolerant semiconductors (diamond, gallium nitride, and silicon carbide) are evaluated in order to convert the 5-MeV alpha decays into electrical current. Alpha energy deposition in diamond and gallium nitride (GaN) was calculated and compared. Alpha-voltaic energy converters were designed in diamond and GaN based on the energy deposition calculations. Diamond p+/p– structures of 9-μm thickness each would place the depletion region at the maximum energy deposition location. The device structures are described.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: October 1, 2017