The paper, published in Diamond and Related Materials, describes a betavoltaic battery powered by the beta decay of the nickel-63 isotope giving 10 times the power of conventional commercial cells.
Betavoltaics themselves are nothing new, using semiconductors to convert the energy of beta decay into electricity, and found use briefly in the 1970s in pacemakers due to their longevity.
However, cheaper chemical batteries with their higher power densities (if shorter lifespans) won the day.
The public perception and fear of all things radioactive at the time did the concept no favours either.
The team at MIPT have come up with a way to deal with the power density problem by using nickel-63 as the power source (and a known quantity thanks to earlier research in both Russia and Bristol) and Schottky barrier-based diamond electrodes for the energy conversion in a novel configuration.
200 of the diamond converters were interlaid with nickel-63 and stable nickel foil layers, with the power generated dependant on the thickness of the foil.