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Why are there no electrical generators utilising the electron/s of beta decay from a radioisotope for generating a working current?

For example, how much radioisotope would I need to generate 1A or higher, i.e. 1C/s = 6E18 electrons/s? Are there species that can sustain this rate of beta decay for any practical length of time, e.g. 25-40 years, say?

I envision a set up of the radioisotope firing the beta particle at a metal anode. Since this hasn't been done in practice - Why? Can beta decay be regulated (e.g. increased) by an external field or change in ambient conditions?.

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    $\begingroup$ Such devices exist - see 'nuclear battery' on Wikipedia for a starting point... $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Sep 19 '15 at 18:20
  • $\begingroup$ And "Betavoltaics". I see, they do exist. Interesting. Should I delete this question? $\endgroup$ – My Other Head Sep 19 '15 at 18:32
  • $\begingroup$ At what stage in a physics or electronic engineering degree do you get to learn about this topic? I intend to do a double. $\endgroup$ – My Other Head Sep 19 '15 at 18:38
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    $\begingroup$ You have to take either spacecraft engineering, or "insane devices for evil supervillains 101" $\endgroup$ – Martin Beckett Sep 19 '15 at 18:40
  • $\begingroup$ might do a triple? I'm half-way there with spacecraft instrument design, a la Cruise et al. $\endgroup$ – My Other Head Sep 19 '15 at 18:41
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There are such devices, but they are rather limited in their electrical output and do require you to carry a big chunk of radioactive material around. Ironically their only commercial use was implanted pacemakers!

If you are going to use radiation to make energy it's easier to use a safer alpha emmitter and just use the heat to generate electricity by the thermo-electric effect. eg New Horizons RTG

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