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Researchers use virus's rogue traits to create electricity from motion

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
May 15, 2012
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Viruses are the swarming bullies of biology, but it turns out their alarming self-replication could one day power your iPod. We've seen them in batteries before, but researchers at Berkeley Labs have now coated electrodes with modified M13 bacteriophage, a harmless bacteria-eating virus, to create the first ever organic piezoelectric material -- which can convert force to electricity. The team explained that such a substance would be non-toxic, organize naturally into thin layers and self-regenerate, giving it a possible advantage over chemical options. In theory, by attaching a thin film of it to your shoes, power could be generated when walking, lending volts to the myriad electronics we pack around nowadays. To see a finger-powered video demo of our frequent-enemies making themselves useful for a change, stroll on past the break.

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