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University To Build Advanced Diode Battery

by Staff Writers
Fargo ND (SPX) Nov 23, 2006
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded North Dakota State University (NDSU), Fargo, $1.25M in funding to undertake the initial six months of an effort to demonstrate a direct power conversion boron carbide diode battery. The total value of the effort, if all phases are completed, could be up to $3.5 million over 1.5 years.

The specialized research is conducted by NDSU's Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering. "The breadth of expertise within the ranks of North Dakota State University faculty is a continuing source of pride," said NDSU President Joseph A. Chapman. "From their efforts come the ideas to solve important challenges and spark innovation and economic growth."

"NDSU's effort was the only funding awarded during the first round of DARPA's Micro Isotope Power Systems (MIPS) effort," said NDSU principal investigator Tony Caruso. "We were able to beat out other bidders because our proposal offered both an aggressive schedule and a reasonable, though admittedly high risk, approach to achieving program targets."

The DARPA program seeks to build a one-cubic-centimeter isotope-based battery that can deliver 35 milliwatts continuously for many months to many years. These batteries could be used to power unattended sensors for applications such as perimeter defense networks.

NDSU's technical approach is to create an alphavoltaic battery from stacked p-n junctions using n-type and p-type boron carbide. Diodes will be stacked to provide modular power and the entire diode stack will be encapsulated in a thick ceramic case. Similar basic technology has been around since 1954 and has been utilized in solar cells. NDSU's recent work with semiconducting boron carbide has demonstrated that the same technology utilized for solar cells may enable long-lasting isotope batteries.

With NDSU as the prime contractor, the team completes its expertise in all needed areas with collaborators from Rensselaer Polytechnic University, SatCon Technology, Battelle Pacific Northwest Division (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory), and the Naval Research Laboratory.

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Chinese Scientists To Take Part In ITER Construction
Beijing, China (XNA) Nov 23, 2006
An agreement on the construction of the world's first international thermonuclear experimental reactor (ITER) was signed in Paris on Tuesday.

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