Viruses under pressure generate electricity to power LCD

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You don’t usually associate a virus with an increase in energy — if one’s attacking your body, you’re often exhausted and if it’s attacking your computer, it can zap the life from your machine. But with a little ingenuity, researchers are developing a new technology based on one biological virus that’s associated with nothing but positive energy.


Tech blog engadget.com reports Berkeley Labs has harnessed the power of a virus that’s capable of producing electricity when stimulated by pressure. When compressed, the M13 bacteriophage produces a charge in a process called piezoelectricity.  What’s even more amazing is that since these viruses can replicate relatively quickly, this could be a naturally renewable source of energy.

In laboratory tests, paper-thin generators the size of a postage stamp, carrying electrodes coated with these viruses have already been able to produce enough current to light up a small LCD.

Since the virus feeds on bacteria and is harmless to humans, this type of technology could also pave the way for batteries made of non-toxic materials. In the future, this type of fuel cell could possibly be implanted in the bottom of your shoe, allowing you to power your mobile devices with every step you make.

Even though the virus is harmless, would it make you uneasy? Or is this a great step toward truly renewable energy?

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