We all know viruses for a bad cause, but now researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have something interesting to say about these viruses.
They have developed a method in which non-human viruses can be used to create electricity through kinetic energy. By using this energy, we can power our gadgets.
The scientists first made the piezoelectric device by coating a small electrode with engineered viruses. By tapping with finger, this device created an electrical charge which was about one quarter the voltage of a triple A battery.
The M13 bacteriophage they had chosen was piezoelectric. It was engineered to increase the voltage. This virus is easily replicated and engineered and many self-organize into well-ordered thin films.
The research team stacked 20 layers of these films which were similar to the size of a postage stamp. This stack was placed in between two gold-plated electrodes.
When you apply the pressure, the device can power a small LCD display. The virus used in is a genetically-modified one and so is human friendly.
According to Seung-Wuk Lee, a member of the research team, the team is now working to improve this proof-of-principle demonstration. At present, the tools of biotechnology enable large-scale production of genetically modified viruses.
Therefore, this kind of piezoelectric materials which are based on viruses could offer a simple method to novel microelectronics in the future.
If they succeed in their mission, we can simply power our gadgets while doing jogging or climbing stairs, opening and closing doors.
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