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Scientists Create Piezoelectric Generators from Bacteriophage Thin Films

Scientists have created bacteriophage-based microelectronic devices that can generate enough electricity to power a liquid-crystal display (LCD) when subjected to mechanical force. The prototype piezoelectric devices are composed of engineered M13 bacteriophages that self-assemble into thin films.

Scientists from the University of California, Berkeley demonstrate the use of the thin films to generate power by layering multiple 1cm2 films between two electrodes and connecting the setup to an LCD. When pressure was repeatedly applied and released, the microgenerator produced up to 6 nA of current and 400 mV of potential, equivalent to about a quarter of the voltage of an AAA battery.

Seung-Wuk Lee, Ph.D., and colleagues say they hope that the proof-of-concept prototype will pave the way to the development of cheap virus-based microelectronic devices that generate power from everyday activities such as shutting doors or climbing stairs. They report their achievement in Nature Nanotechnology in a paper titled “Virus-based piezoelectric energy generation.”

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