Viruses Might Help Make Better Batteries

The research comes out of Angela Belcher’s Biomolecular Materials Group at MIT, which has been working on this project since 1994. They use bacteriophages to build — really, evolve — hyperdense materials from ionic particles, the same way bone, shells, chalk, and glass were made in the Cambrian period.

This week Mark Allen, a postdoc in the group, outlined the use of a new cathode made with iron flouride. Allen also described some of the potential applications of this technology. The high flexibility of the nanostructured material means you can weave it into any fabric or pour it into any shape, including:

  • Wearable battery packs for soliders, first responders, and civilians;
  • Tiny rechargable batteries for portable electronics including smart phones, laptops, and GPS;
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles, which require lightweight, long-lasting power sources.