US scientists have developed a groundbreaking personal power generation technique that draws on viruses to transform energy into electricity.
The method opens up the potential for humans to be able to charge small electrical devices, like iPhones and MP3 players, from nothing other than everyday motions - walking, for example.
Based at the US DOE's (Department of Energy's) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the scientists put their approach to the test by manufacturing a small generator, with enough power to run a simple LCD screen.
Personal Power Generator
This personal power generator got to work through the application of a simple finger tap motion, converting the energy unleashed into electricity.
Never before has a generator been able to generate electricity through harnessing a biological material's piezeoelectric attributes.
From here on in, it's envisaged that a whole array of minute energy-harvesting devices could be manufactured that are triggered by the shutting of a door, the climbing of stairs or other, typical household tasks. It's also expected that microelectronic devices could become much less complex, since the viruses used automatically position themselves in the right way to make the generator work. That's especially significant since, within nanotechnology, such a self-assembling process has long been sought.
Personal Electric Power
Details of this new personal electric power process are covered in a piece published on May 13 by the Nature Nanotechnology journal.
"More research is needed, but our work is a promising first step toward the development of personal power generators, and other devices based on viral electronics", Berkeley Lab's Seung-Wuk Lee explained in a press release.
He added: "We're now working on ways to improve on this proof-of-principle demonstration. Because the tools of biotechnology enable large-scale production of genetically modified viruses, piezoelectric materials based on viruses could offer a simple route to novel microelectronics in the future."
Image copyright Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory