Foresight Nanotech Institute Logo
Image of nano

The Daintiest Dynamos

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.

17 Responses to “The Daintiest Dynamos”

  1. Kadamose Says:

    Radioactive battieries are not the future!

    Zero Point Energy IS the future. Not only is it unlimited in scope, it's also non-toxic. There have been attempts at creating ZPE converters since about 1979, and from last I heard, researchers into ZPE batteries have created batteries that produce up to 3.6 volts of charge (That's not alot – but keep in mind these batteries will never run out, and if run in parallel (or series) with each other, you could meet all of the world's power requirements and never have to worry about conserving.

    The ZPE Reactor converters, however, are said to be producing several megawatts/megavolts of power…and these could be used to power our 'world ships' for space colonization. ZPE can also be also be used for propulsion…meaning rocket fuel/solar sails/inertial dampening/potential energy from jumping from one planet's orbit to another are vastly irrelevent and inferior compared to ZPE propulsion technology.

  2. Anonymous Coward Says:

    Perpetual motion? *sigh*

    OK, as far as I can tell, there really is such a thing a zero point energy battery, at least if you believe Robert Forward's thought experiments. It would hypothetically rely on the Casimir force (sort of an "energy pressure" in the quantum vacuum) to push two mirrors together.

    Furthermore, the Casimir force has apparently been measured, and it corresponds tolerably well to theoretical perdictions. So there's reasons to believe that Forward's designs might work.

    There are two problems: The Casimir force is fairly weak, and it appears to be conservative. In other words, you apparently get lousy energy density, and you can only use the battery once before you recharge it. Not exactly the ideal spacecraft propulsion system.

    Or is there some peer-reviewed paper I've overlooked?

  3. jbash Says:

    What you've overlooked…

    … is the fact that you're feeding a notorious troll.

    Not that I haven't done it in the past, mind you…

  4. Kadamose Says:

    And something you've overlooked…

    A notorious troll with valuable information that is generally 99.9% true, and 100% ignored by those who would brand me as a heretic.

    Quite frankly, however, I really don't give a damn what any of you think about me or my ideas…I know I'm better than most of you, and I doubt I will ever find my equal (or greater) here…simply because none of you have the capacity to think outside the box – add in the fact that the motivation to create more powerful technologies goes hand in hand with greed, and you have yourself a pitiful, draconian scientist who will never truly discover the secrets of the universe, and will always be proven wrong.

  5. RobertBradbury Says:

    Re:And something you've overlooked…

    Cough… Kadamose as someone who started two biotechnology companies to work on extending human lifespan (long before they should have been started) and someone who has described one of the most realistic designs for a megascale supercomputer (on solar system scales) that I believe any human has ever conceived I would take objection to your assertion that "we lack the capacity to think out outside the box".

    One of the areas where I believe you fall down is that you fail to make the distinction between what may be possible and what may be probable. I.e. what conforms to known (theoretical) physical laws and what can actually be engineered. If it cannot be engineered in a reasonable time frame then it is irrelevant because it isn't going to impact life as we know it. Forward was a brilliant physicist. The other physicists working on ZPE are as well. That doesn't however give you a power source. Not today, not tomorrow, not in the next several decades. The problem with your posts is not that they hold up the "Wizard of Oz" principle (… And then something happens …) but that they present the idea that that can happen tomorrow.

    And that my friend simply is not realistic.

  6. Kadamose Says:

    Re:And something you've overlooked…

    I don't want to sound like a brown noser or anything, Robert…but why do you think that your opinion matters to me so much? Here's a hint: You're the only one I respect here. That may appear contradictary considering the previous statement, but that was directed at the zombies who obviously have no capacity to think beyond the norm.

    As for ZPE, it's a very realistic concept, that is already being engineered and used as we speak. The reason why there hasn't been much news about it, is because the governments of this world do not want the zombies to know that unlimited energy exists…because if zombies knew about it, corporations would not be able to charge for energy consumption because the supply and demand equation would not exist. This is another proof that the governments are there only to serve the interests of the corporations, instead of the well being of the people/zombies.

    ZPE exists…and the technology to tap into it has existed for several years now. To call it unrealistic, Robert, is basically self-deception or self-denial.

  7. Kadamose Says:

    Demonstration of Zero-Point Energy

    Here's a 9 minute video clip of primitive ZPE being used (this documentary was made in 1995)

    ZPE Demo

    -Xvid codec required-

  8. RobertBradbury Says:

    Re:And something you've overlooked…

    Ah, but it is important to value what everyone brings to the table as it is highly unlikely that it is possible to know everything… :-;

    With respect to ZPE. Yes I believe it is a real concept. But as others have pointed out using it in a useful way may be *very* *very* difficult. I believe you too easily fall into the "conspiracy" box when the truth is that one is simply dealing with a difficult problem. If free energy were available don't you think politicians would be wrestling with each other to take credit for it? I doubt any "club", no matter how well paid would be able to conceal or restrict this for long. The payoffs are simply too high for "breaking ranks".

    Thus we don't have "free" energy not because there is a conspiracy but because the engineering it is hard and we haven't figured out how to do it yet (if in fact it can be done).

    So it is pointless to discuss it unless you have a concrete plan, backed up by academic research, that would enable its development with an affordable budget and on a time scale that would be useful.

    Citing Forward (though I consider him to be a brilliant person) doesn't cut it because once you start using negative mass in ones equations one is over the edge of what we can seriously consider engineering.

    There is "outside of the box" and there are "boxes that cannot exist" — no way, no how — unless you create a universe subject to different physical laws.

  9. Kadamose Says:

    Re:And something you've overlooked…

    Ah, but that's where you're wrong…the government is nothing but conspiracy…did you ever read that book I told you to read? The Biggest Secret by David Icke? If not, then download it HERE

    The material presented in the book is all true.

  10. Novak3 Says:

    Re:Radioactive battieries are not the future!

    3.6 volts of what, now?

  11. Anonymous Coward Says:

    Re:And something you've overlooked…

    Hello Robert and Kadamose and all. I am interested in both Molecular Manufacturing and Zero Point Radiation/Energy converters, and I am glad this is being discussed and dialogued here. There is actually major research and positive experimental results in this area, one name used for this is the BROWNIAN MOTOR. At least one major MNT book discusses the concept of using Brownian Motion Motors to power nanodevices and even macroscale devices. Go to http://www.integrity-research.org and look at the "Feasibility ZPE Study: Zero Point Energy Extraction from the Quantum Vacuum for the Performance of Useful Work." Thomas Valone and the IRI published this thick multi paged document. There are discussions in there regarding how (interestingly enough) some of the ideal designs for ZPE systems operate at the micro MEMS and Nanoscale Assembler levels of manipulation. Molecular nanotech devices will likely be powered by chemical conversion, solar electricity, hydrogen power, zero point radiation, and more. Check out http://www.quantumfields.com, this shows a possible ZPE battery system that would use MEMS technology. There is also research into Macroscopic Vacuum Polarization, ie learning how to cohere the zero point motion/energy macroscopically into useful power, and more. The work of Dr Moray King (Tapping the Zero Point Energy) and Thomas Bearden may be of interest to you, as well. I personally believe two of the most formidable technologies are Molecular Manufacturing and Zero Point "Vacuum" Energy as well as Local Spacetime Curving Engines. The rectification of thermal noise is a fascinating area of research. Check out http://www.coolchips.com as well.

  12. RobertBradbury Says:

    Re:And something you've overlooked…

    I would suggest that one may need to be very careful when mixing discussions of ZPE and Brownian motion. ZPE is involved with quantum theory and fluctuations in whether something "exists" or not while Brownian motion (thermal noise) is involved with basic thermodynamics due to the latent heat energy within an environment. They are *not* the same type of energy source though I could see one making arguments that similar types of methods might be used in harvesting both sources.

  13. Kadamose Says:

    An idea and a question.

    In that previous video clip I posted, Hutchinson uses crystal/mineral to tap into Zero-Point Energy. With that in mind, once we understood why that particular material taps into ZPE in the first place, wouldn't it be possible to create a synthetic material created on the nanoscale level that not emulates the properties of the mineral, but amplifies the output by several magnitude?

    Of course, this has most likely already been done (conspiracy), but it's important that the scientific community that isn't in the know becomes aware of this. ZPE, in my opinion, is even more important than MNT…mainly because it not only solves the power problem associated with Nanotechnology, it also opens up the door to make everything free (i.e. How can one charge money for something that's unlimited?)

    Many nanotech advocates are aware of the coming paradigm shift, but they refuse to believe that money, governments, and religion will go the way of the dinosaur. So I ask, if we have unlimited energy (ZPE), and unlimited resources (MNT), how does any intelligent person expect the current world infrastructure to not only survive the coming shift, but also prosper in it?

    The 'old world' is dying; let it die.

  14. Iron Sun Says:

    Re:And something you've overlooked…

    Quite frankly, however, I really don't give a damn what any of you think about me or my ideas…I know I'm better than most of you, and I doubt I will ever find my equal (or greater) here

    w00t!

    Prepared to give us the skinny on chemically-powered nuclear transmutation, like you repeatedly promised a fair while ago? Let's recap: You made unequivocal statements about the feasibility of elemental nuclear transmutation using nothing more than chemical bond energy. A number of people, including those working with nuclear material, explained in depth how you were wrong. You replied that you knew they were wrong and could prove it. Repeated requests for you to do so were continually sidestepped but never backed down from. In the linked comment above, yoour last on the issue, you still give the impression that your proof is just around the corner, you just need to finish your reading.

    How's that working out for you?

    That issue is of course directly related to the one at hand. Unable to cope with the world as it is, you have a driving need to demonstrate your marginalised unsung genius status by championing any cause that would show that the state of the world and your inability to cope is the direct result of evil designs and suppressed knowledge rather than your mental deficiencies. As such, you are completely uncritical about what you hitch your wagon to.

    The really sad bit about all this is just how unaware you are of what a textbook psychological profile you present. World-spanning conspiracies of evil enslavers, secret knowledge jealously hidden from the deserving and long-suffering, the refusal to acknowledge petulant parasitism as anything other than noble rebellion…you really, really hate your parents, don't you?

  15. Wuhaa Says:

    the links to the demo movie and the book are dead links

    please update your liks

  16. Christine Peterson Says:

    I updated the first link. The second one seems to be working. –CP

  17. Itharian Says:

    ZPE does seem to exist, shown by the Casimir effect. However there are two problems. First, a large amount of ZPE would cause massive and rapid expansion of the universe (in astronomy ZPE is a possible creator of the cosmological constant). Currently the value of the cosmological constant is 10^-29 g/cm^3, where as ZPE is calculated at 10^93 g/cm^3. Clearly something is wrong somewhere.

    Secondly, even at high levels, its wouldn’t be free energy. The Casimir effect works becuase the ZPE between the plates has gone DOWN, less is there. Thats why there is unequal pressures on the plates driving them together. So you simply convert ZPE into some other form of energy. It isn’t free at all. Plus, to drive the plates back apart for a redo, you have to overcome the zpe pressures which, due to imperfections, costs more energy than what you got out of it.

    In short, you would have to make a lot of disposable casimir plates to use ZPE, and there cannot be much of it lying around due to a small cosmolgical constant (unless there is a lot of negative ZPE that cancels out the massive positive that has been calculated to exist). Either way, it isn’t free energy, and the size of the devices have to be really small and disposible.

    Contrary to popular opinion, physics is not overturned ever, but enhanced. Newton was not thrown out, but added upon.

Leave a Reply