Deep space exploration, use of sensors and devices at harsh climate conditions or in remote, hardly accessible areas, requires solutions, which will be modern and reliable on one hand and have a long lifetime on the other hand. One of the ideas, which meet these requirements is betavoltaic battery.
This concept is known since the 50s of the twentieth century and is based on the conversion of energy from radioactive elements using semiconductor p-n junctions. However, the rapid development of semiconductors of wide energy gap (mainly GaN), opened new possibilities of more efficient energy conversion. The idea of the betavoltaic battery is based on fabricating the semiconductor p-n junction, in a similar but not identical way to standard photovoltaic cells. The design of the structure has to be combined with the choice of the most appropriate source of beta particles.
Within the present work we demonstrate the modelling, design and the first tests of betavoltaic structure based on GaN p-n junction. The betavoltaic structures were fabricated by MOVPE on sapphire or gallium nitride substrate. The structures were tested by irradiating with electrons inside SEM. The signal detection was performed using EBIC (electron beam induced current) system. The use of electron beam in SEM, made possible to tune the acceleration voltage and the kinetic energy of electrons, allowing the simulation of irradiation using various radioactive sources. We also test various types of top metallization schemes to optimize the overall design of the device.
The research was supported by the National Science Center, Poland, through grant no. 2014/15/D/ST7/05288.
Szymon Grzanka, Piotr Rafal Laskowski, Lucja Marona, Gregory Targowski, Barbara Zareba, Krzysztof Wincel, Marcin Klimasz, Tomasz Lotz, Piotr Perlin, and Tadek Suski, "Gallium nitride: a material for future betavoltaic (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10104, Gallium Nitride Materials and Devices XII, 101040N (Presented at SPIE OPTO: January 31, 2017; Published: 19 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2252962.5391659234001.
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