Anonymous Coward writes "Feynman's vision has finally begun to materialize, thanks to ever more sophisticated microelectronics. Micro- and nanoscale machines are poised to become a multibillion-dollar market as they are incorporated in all kinds of electronic devices.
But, again, at very small scales, chemical batteries can't provide enough juice to power these micromachines. As you reduce the size of such a battery, the amount of stored energy goes down exponentially.
Researchers developing sensors the size of a grain of sand had to attach them to batteries they couldn't make smaller than a shirt button. The nuclear microbatteries we are developing won't require refueling or recharging and will last as long as the half-life of the radioactive source, at which point the power output will decrease by a factor of two.
For the IEEE Spectrum article click here."
Ed. note: This reminds me of the Gd148 power source for nanorobots (Nanomedicine Vol I, Sec 6.3.7, pgs 156-159). It begs the issue that a lot more people are going to have to become a lot more comfortable with radioactive power sources.