A team at MIT have created microscopic batteries built with viruses. The tiny batteries are half the size of a human cell and could have many applications such as powering implanted medical devices such as a pacemaker.
They could even be spun into fibres and then woven in to your clothes – although the researchers are still working on that, according to team leader Angela Belcher:
“We definitely don’t have full batteries on those [fiber architectures]. We’ve only worked on single electrodes so far, but the idea is to try to make these fiber batteries that could be integrated into textiles and woven into lots of different shapes.”
The batteries are made by genetically engineering viruses to form wires from individual molecules of materials such as cobalt oxide. The viruses have been specifically engineered to make them ideal for working at room temperature and pressure. They also can’t reproduce by themselves, and will only infect bacteria. They form a wire 17,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper that is packed together to make part of the battery.
The teams next goal is to work on applying thee batteries to curved surfaces, as well as looking at integrating the batteries with other biological organisms.