Modeling and Simulation of a Gallium Nitride (GaN) Betavoltaic Energy Converter

Report No. ARL-TR-7675
Authors: William B Ray II, Marc S Litz, and Johnny A Russo
Date/Pages: June 2016; 71 pages
Abstract: Gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor devices have the potential to improve the efficiency of direct energy conversion and indirect energy conversion isotope batteries, making available long-lived power sources. However, knowledge of the details of electron transport when GaN is exposed to higher-energy electrons typical of beta emission by tritium is needed. A model of a GaN betavoltaic ( β V) device was simulated using Silvaco ATLAS device simulation software. Numerical calculations are compared to experimental results obtained from prior experimental parameter studies of a GaN P-u-N diode. The device efficiency and maximum power point with respect to different energy electron beams of the experiment and simulation are then compared to verify the model. The simulation results match with the results of the measured β V device. The GaN simulation model developed can be used to verify the fundamental material characteristics of the as-grown GaN, understand the design challenges, and optimize the efficiency of the β V process in different GaN device structures offering higher-energy-conversion efficiency than 2-dimensional geometries.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: June 1, 2016