Lawrence Berkeley lab makes power from viruses
Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory figured out a way to generate power using viruses.
The viruses, which aren't harmful, convert mechanical energy into electricity. They use the principle of piezoelectricity, where a charge is stored in something solid when it is put under mechanical stress.
To show off the principle, scientists at the lab built a small liquid crystal display that can be powered by someone tapping their finger on a postage stamp sized electrode coated with the engineered viruses.
Seung-Wuk Lee of LBL's physical biosciences division worked on the project, along with University of California Berkeley professor Ramamoorthy Ramesh of the lab's materials sciences division and also Byung Yang Lee of the lab's biosciences division.
The advantage of this approach, the scientists said, is that current materials used in piezoelectric devices are toxic, limiting widespread use of the technology. The chopstick shaped M13 bacteriophage virus used by these researchers is harmless to people and can replicate itself millions of times in just hours.
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