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I was just wondering if you could take a small amount of Am241 and use the gamma rays coming off of it to generate electricity. I don't really know how this would work, so that's why I'm asking it here. Thanks in advance!

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  • $\begingroup$ You refer to both alpha and gamma radiation. Are you imagining using the charged alpha particles leaving the metal as a source of positive current? Or are you imagining enclosing the americium in some radiation shield and using the heat to boil water and turn a steam turbine? The ionization current in a smoke detector works via a third mechanism, which you can look up. $\endgroup$
    – rob
    Dec 16, 2020 at 1:39

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Sure, you can just absorb the radiation as heat and use it to generate electricity thermoelectrically. This is how the Voyager space probes maintain power, for example. This is also mentioned on the wikipedia page for Am241.

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