Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Made from Viruses

MIT researchers announced that they had found a way to use viruses to assemble tiny components of a battery,says the Discovery News. Basically, they altered the viruses' genetic makeup so that it would produce proteins that attracted molecules of cobalt. When the colbalt built up on the stringy virus, vĂ³ila, you had an ultrathin wire. Such batteries could one day power miniature devices and sensors.

Scientists have a developed a method to fabricate and then position some of the battery components (two opposite electrodes — an anode and cathode — separated by an electrolyte) onto a variety of surfaces.

Scientists create a particular pattern into a clear rubbery material (right). Then, they spread over it several layers of a solution containing two polymers. As they solidify, one solution acts like a battery electrolyte. On top of that, the scientists deposit the genetically altered viruses, which self-assemble into neat formation. They become the anode. (The team is still working to create the cathode.)

With the parts assembled on the rubbery material, the scientists then turn into arts and crafts majors and use that as a stamp. They turn the stamp over and transfer the electrolyte and anode to a platinum structure.