Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Apr 17

MIT Completes Virus-Built Nanomachine Battery

Posted in Battery Technology | Energy Inventions | Future Technology

Virus Battery When we watch science fiction, deep in our heart many of us believe that’s how it will remain, a fiction. But few refuse to believe that and turn science fiction into reality. Angela Belcher and her team of bioengineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) belong to the second category. They have turned virus-built battery into a reality. Their efforts have not yielded instant result. They have been working on this theory for the past five years. They were concentrating their efforts on a virus known as M13 bacteriophage that are harmless to humans.


The main advantage of this M13 bacteriophage is that it is attracted to inorganic materials. Each virus can be coated with gold and cobalt oxide and that transforms it into a scrap of nanowire. When we combine these viruses in chain-like fashion, they form a film that can act as anode or the part of a battery that carries a negative ionic charge. This feat was achieved almost three years ago. The battle was half won. We all know that negative and positive ions are needed to form a functional battery. How does battery work? The first requirement is to charge a battery. Charging a battery requires flow of ions from the negatively-charged anode to the positively-charged cathode. Another important aspect is to discharge a battery. For that we need the flow in the opposite direction to “discharge” that electricity through laptops, mobile phones, and other such devices.

MIT team’s next effort was directed towards developing a cathode. They have used viruses that would be attracted to iron phosphate and carbon nanotubes (cylindrical carbon molecules frequently used in nanotechnology). This way they have created a highly conductive substance whose weight is negligible. After creating anode and cathode successfully, they have generated a micro-battery capable of around 100 charges. The prototype took this model and inflated it to the size of a button cell battery which powers a simple LED.

The MIT team has an issue with the weight of the battery but they don’t have nay problem as far as shape of the battery is concerned. Like water they can acquire the shape of any container they are fitted in. The new virus-produced batteries are no different from traditional batteries as far as the energy capacity and power performance is concerned. These rechargeable batteries are being considered to power hybrid cars. According to Angela Belcher these virus-built batteries could also be used to power a range of personal electronic devices.

The most advantageous aspect of virus-built batteries is they could be produced in an environmentally friendly manner and they would prove economical for the manufacturers too. The manufacturing process could be carried out at or below room temperature without the involvement of the harmful organic solvents. Battery materials are non toxic.

MIT President Susan Hockfield displayed the prototype battery to a press briefing at the White House. She was joined by U.S. President Barack Obama. Both spoke about the requirement for federal funding to further the research and development of new clean-energy technologies.

Now Belcher is already thinking of better ideas regarding virus batteries. They want to develop batteries having higher voltage and capacitance by using different materials such as manganese phosphate and nickel phosphate. She is hopeful that once the next generation is ready this technology can be utilized commercially.


Flat Tower: Innovative Architectural Solution

Flat Tower: Innovative Architectural Solution

High-rise buildings and skyscrapers have been the most favored architectural solutions for highly populated cities. It is a commendable idea for combining height – growing more vertically – and

More Power to Electronics Thanks to Nano-scale Wires

More Power to Electronics Thanks to Nano-scale Wires

Today a long-standing electronic dream has become a reality thanks to research done by a team of scientists from Bar-Ilan University, Israel, supported by U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE)

MIT Working on More Powerful, Lightweight Batteries

MIT Working on More Powerful, Lightweight Batteries

A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is working on lithium-air batteries that could help in generating more powerful, lightweight batteries than available currently.

Tiny Generators Produce Electricity from Ambient Vibrations

Tiny Generators Produce Electricity from Ambient Vibrations

Tiny generators developed at the University of Michigan could produce enough electricity from random, ambient vibrations to power a wristwatch, pacemaker or wireless sensor. The energy-harvesting devices, created at

Using Carbon Nanotubes to Produce Electricity

Using Carbon Nanotubes to Produce Electricity

The researchers of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have uncovered a new phenomenon of carbon nanotubes. They found that carbon nanotubes discharge powerful waves of electricity under certain

Scientists use Visible Light to Break Down Carbon Dioxide

Scientists use Visible Light to Break Down Carbon Dioxide

We all are familiar with the effects of carbon dioxide on our environment. Carbon dioxide is responsible for causing the greenhouse effect. If scientists can breakdown this gas into

Nanotechnology Lights Up Batteries and Clothing

Nanotechnology Lights Up Batteries and Clothing

Yi Cui, an engineer at Stanford University, leads a team that may take nanotechnology to the next level by creating paper batteries and fabrics that can conduct energy. At

Germanium Laser is the Latest Light Technology to be Unveiled

Germanium Laser is the Latest Light Technology to be Unveiled

The materials in lasers can be expensive and difficult to work with. A discovery at MIT may be changing all of that much sooner than we think as germanium