Berkeley Lab Scientists Generate Electricity From Viruses
Let's imagine being able to charge the phone while we walk, thanks to a generator of the thickness of the paper embedded in the sole of our shoe. Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory of the US Department of Energy have developed a way to generate power using harmless viruses that convert mechanical energy into electricity.
Bacteriophage M13 is 880 nanometers long and 6.6 nanometers in diameter. It is coated with approximately 2,700 charged proteins that allow scientists to use the virus as a piezoelectric nanofiber. The scientists tested their approach by creating a generator that produces enough current to power a small liquid crystal display. It works by tapping a finger on an electrode the size of a postage stamp coated with specially modified viruses. Viruses convert the force of the blow into an electrical charge.
This generator is the first to produce electricity by taking advantage of the piezoelectric properties of a biological material. The milestone could lead to small devices that accumulate electrical energy from the vibrations of everyday tasks, such as closing a door or climbing stairs.