The objective of this research is to develop science and technology of radioisotope powered ultra-high vacuum ion-vacuum pumps and ion-gauges, with direct charge radioisotope power sources and wireless transmitters. The approach is to use the electrons emitted from beta-emitting radioisotope thin films to ionize gases, and also generate high voltages for removing gases, while realizing power extraction from the radioisotopes using self-reciprocating cantilever.
The effort will lead to building blocks of miniature UHV technology that can be used for a host of micro and nanoscale vacuum devices. The basic processes of beta-particle induced ion creation, secondary and primary ion/electron diffusion within micro vacuum packages will be measured and modeled to optimize atom removal for self-powered pumping. This active getter technology will enable the operation of direct charge radioisotope power sources, which inherently enable very small amounts of radioisotopes to be used to generate useful power levels.
This work will lead to power sources with integrated wireless transmission for decades of operation where life-saving reliability is required. These applications include long-term implants in tiny body cavities, and wireless sensors that need to operate in very high and low temperatures such as car engines, chemical processing centers, and mixed into concrete for structural monitoring. By increasing the reliability of miniature power sources, many applications will become within national and corporate budgets for making lives safer and efficient., A graduate level course will be developed on the science and technology of radioisotopes applied to microsystems.