One challenge for nano engineers is how to supply power to nanoid devices that require energy to fuction. A number of potential solutions have being studied and this is an area of increasing research.
Areas have included combustion based energy generation and micro-fuel-cells. These convert mechanical, thermal or chemical energy into electricity. However, all of these require external energy to drive the engine, to supply fuel, or to ignite the chemical reaction.
Lithium batteries can suffer from low energy density and a poor lifetime.
Micro solar cell arrays could be one solution but they require light, and this would not always be practical .
Perhaps the most promising technology is provided by Betavoltaic cells which have a higher energy density than chemical fuels and a good lifetime. An additional benefit is that radioisotopes can be formed in thin films, allowing them to be integrated directly into MEMS with little additional volume requirement. The battery becomes a micropart of the system.
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