Scientists generate electricity from viruses
When people get a cold or the flu, they tend to experience a lack of energy. But what if viruses could actually generate energy — not to power your body, but to charge your electronic devices?
That’s the idea behind a new electric generator developed by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The scientists coated a postage-stamp-sized electrode with specially engineered, harmless viruses that, when tapped, generated enough electricity to power a small LCD display. Their research was published online May 13 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
The scientists are exploiting a principle known as piezoelectricity — the generation of energy through mechanical stress, specifically pressure or vibrations. Piezoelectricity was first identified more than 130 years ago and is used in many common devices, but this is the first time that it has been generated by biological materials. The piezoelectric devices that are currently on the market rely upon toxic materials such as lead and lithium.