Cold Fission

Liquid semiconductors could yield a better nuclear battery

3 min read

What if you could make a miniature, superefficient nuclear power plant that’s simple to build and doesn’t get much hotter than a kitchen oven? That could be the result of an innovation being developed by scientists at Global Technologies, in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

GTI’s president, Francis Tsang, and colleagues are working on a nuclear voltaic cell consisting, basically, of a semiconductor and an amount of radioactive material [see photo, ”Innovator”]. The semiconductor sits between two conductors to form a Schottky diode, and it is bombarded by particles from uranium, plutonium, or some less dangerous radioactive material.

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Practical Power Beaming Gets Real

A century later, Nikola Tesla’s dream comes true

8 min read
This nighttime outdoor image, with city lights in the background, shows a narrow beam of light shining on a circular receiver that is positioned on the top of a pole.

A power-beaming system developed by PowerLight Technologies conveyed hundreds of watts of power during a 2019 demonstration at the Port of Seattle.

PowerLight Technologies
Yellow

Wires have a lot going for them when it comes to moving electric power around, but they have their drawbacks too. Who, after all, hasn’t tired of having to plug in and unplug their phone and other rechargeable gizmos? It’s a nuisance.

Wires also challenge electric utilities: These companies must take pains to boost the voltage they apply to their transmission cables to very high values to avoid dissipating most of the power along the way. And when it comes to powering public transportation, including electric trains and trams, wires need to be used in tandem with rolling or sliding contacts, which are troublesome to maintain, can spark, and in some settings will generate problematic contaminants.

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