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MIT builds battery from bacterial virus, humans to power machines by 2012

Thomas Ricker, @trixxy
April 3, 2009
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We've been tracking MIT professor Angela Belcher's attempt to build batteries and nano-electronics from viruses since 2006. Scientifically speaking, the so-called "virus" is actually a bacteriophage, a virus that preys only on bacteria while leaving humans of diminishing scientific knowledge alone to doubt that claim. Now, in a new report co-authored by Belcher, MIT research documents the construction of a lithium-ion battery (pictured after the break) with the help of a biological virus dubbed M13. M13 acts as a "biological scaffold" that allows carbon nanotubes and bits of iron phosphate to attach and form a network for conducting electricity. Specifically, MIT used the genetically engineered material to create the battery's negatively charged anode and positively charged cathode. Best of all, MIT's technique can be performed at, or below room temperature which is important from a manufacturing perspective -- a process that MIT claims will be "cheap and environmentally benign." Already MIT has constructed a virus-battery about the size of that found in a watch to turn on small lights in an MIT lab. Belcher claims that just a third of an ounce (about 10 grams) of the viral battery material could power an iPod for 40 hours. In time and with enough effort MIT expects to scale the technology to power electronic vehicles. Remember, when the time comes choose the red pill.

[Via Scientific American, Thanks James]





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