Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Laptops could charge by typing, thanks to a virus

(Credit:Crave UK)

Whether our laptop gives up just as we're about to finish a crucial report or our phone kicks the bucket when we're hopelessly lost, we've all felt the pain of running out of juice. Which is why we love the sound of laptops that can be charged by typing, or phones that power up as you walk. And it's all thanks to a genetically engineered virus that turns movement or pressure into electricity.

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory set out to generate piezoelectric power from the M13 virus, commonly found in science labs.

It's the first time scientists have generated electricity by harnessing the piezoelectric properties of a biological material. The piezoelectric effect was discovered in 1880 and sees a charge build up in crystals, ceramics, and even bone when placed under mechanical stress -- creating a spark in cigarette lighters or barbecues, for example.

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