Monday, September 7, 2009

The Power of Viruses!

We learned in class today how rapidly viruses can mutate. Scientists have tapped into the potential of viruses and have biologically engineered them in order to make use of their mutations as power generators for more efficient and green batteries.

Lithium ions move between the anode and cathode inside our rechargeable lithium ion batteries. When iron phosphate, a material at the cathode, reacts with lithium, there is a high capacity to store energy. However, the movement of ions and electrons is relatively slow and hence, it is a poor conductor and makes the battery less efficient at releasing energy.

A lab team has experimented with ways to let “the virus do the work.” They worked with a biological template on the “nanoscale,” forming iron phosphate-coated viruses and carbon nanotubes that led to a highly conductive cathode in which electrons could more rapidly move through. In the near future, this means that viruses can be responsible for the rechargeable lithium ion batteries in our laptops, iPods, and cell phones!

To attempt your own at sifting through techy language, here is the article:

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