May 13, 2012 –
Bioengineering Associate Professor Seung-Wuk Lee has pioneered a new technique to generate electricity from viruses, featured in today’s advance online publication of Nature Nanotechnology.
Lee and colleagues at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed a way to convert the mechanical energy of harmless viruses into electrical energy. The scientists tested their findings by coating an area the size of a postage stamp with engineered viruses. When the sample is tapped, the viruses convert the force of the tap into enough electricity to power a small liquid-crystal display.
This milestone could lead to tiny devices that harness power from the vibrations of every day life–even from the impact of shoes hitting the concrete, allowing us all to generate electricity as we walk.
The research harnesses the piezoelectric properties of biological materials, and builds on Lee’s extensive experience using the M13 bacteriophage as a building block for nanoscale engineering advances.