Experts in nuclear physics at the University of Surrey have helped develop research towards a ‘nuclear battery’, which could revolutionize the concept of portable power by packing in up to a million times more energy compared to a conventional battery.
By capturing charged particles in a special storage ring the experts have solved a long-standing problem of how to understand the fundamental structure of an unstable isotope of bismuth, Bi-212, with potential far-reaching consequences. Professor Phil Walker, of the University’s Department of Physics, said: “The new understanding gives us confidence in the nuclear theory, which guides us to the next step of experimentation. It is hoped that this may, in the longer term, lead to the ability to control a form of trapped nuclear energy, with the ability to release the energy on demand.” Catching the bismuth ions in a storage ring has enabled, for the first time, direct observation of the trapped energy state, resolving a previous inconsistency with theory. Now, the theory can be used reliably to predict other properties of this isotope, and this suggests possible ways to release the trapped energy – which would be a key to unlocking the ‘nuclear battery’ concept.
Read more at: Phys.org