Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tiny Batteries Built By Viruses

MIT scientists have harnessed the construction talents of tiny viruses to build ultra-small "nanowire" structures for use in very thin lithium-ion batteries.

The goal of the work, led by MIT Professors Angela Belcher, Paula Hammond and Yet-Ming Chiang, is to create batteries that cram as much electrical energy into as small or lightweight a package as possible.
By manipulating a few genes inside these viruses, the team was able to coax the organisms to grow and self-assemble into a functional electronic device.

The batteries they hope to build could range from the size of a grain of rice up to the size of existing hearing aid batteries.

They manipulated the genes in a laboratory strain of a common virus, making the microbes collect exotic materials -- cobalt oxide and gold. And because these viruses are negatively charged, they can be layered between oppositely charged polymers to form thin, flexible sheets.

The result? A dense, virus-loaded film that serves as an anode.

Researchers build tiny batteries with viruses - MIT News Office


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