Technology has been developed for a class of self-contained, long-duration power sources called beta batteries, which harvest the energy contained in the radioactive emissions from beta decay isotopes. The new battery is a significant improvement over the conventional phosphor/ solar cell concept for converting this energy in three ways. First, the thin phosphor is replaced with a thick scintillator that is transparent to its own emissions. By using a scintillator sufficiently thick to completely stop all the beta particles, efficiency is greatly improved. Second, since the energy of the beta particles is absorbed in the scintillator, the semiconductor photodetector is shielded from radiation damage that presently limits the performance and lifetime of traditional phosphor converters. Finally, instead of a thin film of beta-emitting material, the isotopes are incorporated into the entire volume of the thick scintillator crystal allowing more activity to be included in the converter without self-absorption.