Genetically Modified Viruses to Power Batteries

Researchers at the MIT have managed to develop a new technology that could go a long way on solving the battery related woes that plague us currently.

As energy demands and other requirements from gadgets and devices continue to increase, we are still tied to the decade old battery technologies that seem to have reached their limits. Folks at the MIT seem to understand this and their study aimed at two things. They include drawing more power and keeping the size of the batteries small – really small.

The scientists used the M13 bacteriophage — a kind of virus that infects bacteria and genetically modified them into getting attracted towards inorganic materials. Post this; each virus gets a tendency to coat itself with gold and cobalt-oxide. When these viruses are chained or put together, they can act as anodes – an important part of any battery setup. This was discovered nearly five years ago. The problem however was the cathode, which like the anode is required for any battery to work. While we had a working model of the anode ready, such a nano sizes cathode was a challenge to be designed.

Finally, the researchers have managed to engineer viruses capable of attracting iron phosphate and carbon nanotubes, making them act like nano cathodes. With both the cathode and the anode ready, the next challenge was to actually build a working model of a battery. The team was able to make one which was capable of a 100 charges and was capable to power an LED.

The team is also looking to make more powerful batteries in the future and aims to create an inexpensive, no polluting source of power for our gadgets of the future.

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