When the virus is used to recharge your smartphone
Researchers at Berkeley Lab , the Department of Energy of the United States, have devised a system that generates electricity from viruses (understood in the biological term) absolutely benign in respect of living beings. Thanks to the discovery, in the future, it may be possible to get food to an electronic device (eg, recharge the battery of a smartphone) by converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. But which mechanical energy is used? The electric generator developed in Berkeley Lab is the first of its kind capable of exploiting the piezoelectric properties of a biological material.
By the term “piezoelectricity” refers to that property which causes the charge to accumulate generating a potential difference by subjecting a solid – generally a crystal – to a mechanical deformation. American scientists have observed how the virus M13 bacteria used for the experiment presents the same interesting feature piezoelectric. By pressing with a finger an electrode “coated” with several layers of the virus, researchers have succeeded in generating a potential difference, then used to power an LCD screen. The virus has in fact converted mechanical energy into electrical energy used, in this case, to display the digit “1″ on the LCD. ” It is essential to conduct further investigations nevertheless our work represents a promising step forward in the development of personal power generators , “said Seung-Wuk Lee, one of the academics involved in the project.
The M13 virus is commonly used in bioengineering from the moment that does not represent a threat to individuals and is able to reproduce themselves in a few hours. Lee and his team, after confirming that the virus is natualmente piezoelectric M13, have sought to enhance the property through a genetic engineering work then superimposed films containing 20 each having a single layer of the virus in order to maximize ‘ effect obtainable. The potential difference observed at the ends of the base containing the virus was equal to 400 mV, about a quarter of a AAA battery, but enough to bring up the number “1″ on the display. The technology proposed by Lee and his staff could be combined with the activities of everyday life here so that you could get to charge the phone while walking down the street.