Tuesday, 15 May 2012, 7:12 PM EDT
(NewsCore) – Scientists have developed a technique to generate power with harmless viruses that convert mechanical energy into electricity.
The breakthrough could mean that one day, we might be able to charge our cell phones with paper-thin generators that harvest electricity from the vibrations of everyday tasks such as shutting a door or climbing stairs, the scientists said.
“More research is needed, but our work is a promising first step toward the development of personal power generators, actuators for use in nano-devices, and other devices based on viral electronics,” said Seung-Wuk Lee, a scientist at the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.
The device works by harnessing the piezoelectric properties of the M13 bacteriophage, a virus that only attacks bacteria and is benign to people.
Piezoelectricity is electricity resulting from accumulation of a charge in a solid in response to pressure and is the basis for items like electric cigarette lighters and push-start propane barbecues.
“We’re now working on ways to improve on this proof-of-principle demonstration,” Lee added. “Because the tools of biotechnology enable large-scale production of genetically modified viruses, piezoelectric materials based on viruses could offer a simple route to novel microelectronics in the future.”
Read more: Berkeley Lab