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According to US researchers, these materials that directly convert radiation into electricity could usher in a new era of spacecraft and even ground vehicles powered by powerful nuclear batteries.
According to their calculations, the materials they are studying would provide up to 20 times more energy per radioactive decay than thermoelectric materials.
Layered carbon nanotube plates, packed with gold and surrounded by lithium hydride, are being tested. Radioactive particles hitting the gold eject a high-energy stream of electrons that passes through the carbon nanotubes and into the lithium hydride, from where it travels to the electrodes, allowing current to flow.
Source: New Scientist