Thursday, April 02, 2009
Viruses can be used to assemble tiny batteries that can then be printed on plastic films, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers claim. The MIT investigators reported on genetically-engineered viruses that were used to self-assemble nanoscale lithium-ion battery materials. The resulting batteries were then printed onto plastic films using green processes. MIT researchers claimed to have perfected the last major component of its flexible battery film, demonstrating performance comparable to existing lithium-ion batteries that run everything from laptop computers to hybrid automobiles. The team is currently optimizing its materials to boost performance beyond existing lithium-ion batteries. Eventually, they plan to commercialize the printable battery films.
BOTTOM LINE: MIT has cleared the final hurdle toward superior thin-film battery technologies self-assembled at the nanoscale with living viruses. With different genetically engineered viruses for patterning both anode- and cathode-electrodes, MIT now has the technology to mass produce flexible, thin-film batteries using a micro-contact technique. Look for conformable batteries using its technology in two to three years.
Posted by R. Colin Johnson at 10:31 AM