The first nuclear powered artificial neuron

A joint team from Arkenlight and Axorus have built the first artificial neuron powered by a Tritium Radiovoltaic micro-power generator. This proof of concept paves the way for long lasting autonomous implanted medical devices.

Axorus’ Artificial Neuron powered by Arkenlight’s Betavoltaic.
In the bright spot at the top is the artificial neuron microcircuit. The blackbox at the bottom is the betavoltaic power source.

Using Arkenlight’s micro-power generator, Axorus was able to power its artificial neuron. This electronic piece of technology is a circuit behaving like a biological neuron. It is used inside an artificial retina for patients suffering from Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and will also be used for other neurodegenerative diseases.

Currently, the Axorus artificial neuron is powered by ambient light, which is well-suited for the retina. In this application, Arkenlight’s technology will allow these devices to be powered in low light conditions. Beyond that, the combined technologies will enable a broader range of self-powered medical devices.

Arkenlight, a University of Bristol spin-out company and South West Nuclear Hub member, is commercializing a range of ultra-long lasting radiovolatic power cells. We are targeting the use of medical grade radioisotopes to fuel our synthetic diamond power cells.

With a commercial target of 2024, Arkenlight’s devices will generate μWs of power for decades and longer in a tiny footprint of ~4x4mm and less than 50 microns in thickness.

Morgan Boardman, CEO of Arkenlight, said: “Axorus’ breakthrough is an exciting evolution in neuroscience. We are proud that our combined technologies will impact and improve the lives of so many people.”

This proof-of-concept is a first step, Axorus and Arkenlight are working on miniaturizing and integrating those technologies to be implantable and last decades.

Jean-Damien Louise, CEO of Axorus commented “Arkenlight’s betavoltaic battery will enable Axorus to provide a long lasting power source for medical devices, beyond our artificial retina.”

Further information


Formed in 2020, Arkenlight is the natural progression of the ASPIRE diamond group at the University of Bristol; a team of energy and diamond material scientists in the schools of Physics and Chemistry.

The company is driven by a mission to recycle wastes from the nuclear power industry such as Tritium and Carbon-14 and safely convert them into useful products with ultra-long-lived power requiring zero maintenance, operable in nearly any environment.

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