Scientists have unveiled what they say could be the forerunner of many virus-powered gadgets. A team at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has created a tiny generator powered by a benign virus, reports the BBC. When a finger touches an electrode coated with viruses, they converted the mechanical energy into electricity. Researchers say viruses have the edge over other substances that convert force into electricity, because they are organic, organize themselves naturally into layers, and replicate themselves by the millions.
The team used a genetically engineered version of the M13 bacteriophage, which attacks other viruses but is harmless to other creatures. The device only created enough electricity to flash a number on a liquid crystal display, but it represents "a promising first step toward the development of personal power generators, actuators for use in nano-devices, and other devices based on viral electronics," the lead researcher says, predicting that the advance will lead to devices that harvest electricity from the movements involved in everyday tasks.