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  Scientists create first electricity generator powered by viruses
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ContributorHomegrown Democrat 
Last EditedHomegrown Democrat  May 18, 2012 12:02am
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CategoryNews
AuthorChris Jablonski
News DateMonday, May 14, 2012 10:50:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionThe same means of generating a charge that allows scanning probe microscopes, cigarette lighters, and push-start propane barbecues to function can now be harnessed from viruses.

Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed a way to generate power using a virus called M13 bacteriophage to convert mechanical energy into electricity.

The technology could one day lead to gadgets like smartphones that harvest energy from everyday movements, such as walking.

The newly created generator is the first to produce electricity by harnessing the piezoelectric properties of a biological material, according to a news release. Piezoelectricity is the accumulation of a charge in a solid in response to mechanical pressure.

The scientists tested their approach by creating a paper-thin generator that produces enough current to operate a small liquid-crystal display. It works by tapping a finger on a postage stamp-sized electrode coated with the engineered viruses. The viruses convert the force of the tap into an electric charge.
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