Using Virus to Build Batteries
Posted on April 5, 2009 Comments (1)
MIT researchers have shown they can genetically engineer viruses to build both the positively and negatively charged ends of a lithium-ion battery. We have posted about similar things previously, for example: Virus-Assembled Batteries – Using Viruses to Construct Electrodes and Biological Molecular Motors. New virus-built battery could power cars, electronic devices
Because the viruses recognize and bind specifically to certain materials (carbon nanotubes in this case), each iron phosphate nanowire can be electrically “wired” to conducting carbon nanotube networks. Electrons can travel along the carbon nanotube networks, percolating throughout the electrodes to the iron phosphate and transferring energy in a very short time. The viruses are a common bacteriophage, which infect bacteria but are harmless to humans.
The team found that incorporating carbon nanotubes increases the cathode’s conductivity without adding too much weight to the battery. In lab tests, batteries with the new cathode material could be charged and discharged at least 100 times without losing any capacitance. That is fewer charge cycles than currently available lithium-ion batteries, but “we expect them to be able to go much longer,” Belcher said.