SEP 10, 2020 7:17 AM PDT

Reprogramming Virus to Build Better Li-ion Batteries

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

There's no doubt that the word "virus" is currently on everyone's mind. However, there's a lot more to this dubious, microscopic "life form" than merely being a pandemic-causing bug.

This April, a team of MIT researchers reported that they used a strain of genetically reprogrammed viruses to perform a usual task - constructing a flexible, ultracompact lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery

The viruses they used, called M13 bacteriophage, infect no other organisms except for bacteria. The scientists induced mutations in the viral genome to alter their preference to what type of surface to cling to.  From there, they picked the one that has the most affinity to carbon nanotubes to build highly conductive cathodes for the battery. And thanks to its genetic nature, the bacteriophage can replicate themselves, by billions of copies, inside bacterial culture dishes. Therefore, the process can be developed into an environmentally friendly method for mass production. 

The batteries with the virus-built cathode could undergo at least 100 charging cycles without losing capacity. With further tweaking, the team hopes that their invention, a super lightweight and flexible energy storage device, can have a similar life-span as conventional Li-ion batteries.

Source: Seeker via Youtube

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
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