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A virus-assembled battery is a self-contained energy source created via a process in which genetically modified biological viruses assemble inorganic molecules into predesigned structures, eventually forming the internal components of a battery by bonding with free-floating metal molecules in a solution, usually water. The process was pioneered by researchers at MIT led by Professor Angela Belcher.
Virus-assembled batteries were first observed to be feasible in 2002 when Angela Belcher, Professor of Energy and Director of Biomolecular Materials Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), engineered a virus called the M13 bacteriophage after studying abalone shells. The M13 virus can be made to bond with and coat itself with inorganic materials such as cobalt oxide and gold. The resulting long tubular structures of cobalt oxide then act as a piece of nanowire which, when coaxed together to form larger structures, resemble the basic components of a battery that can potentially be compact yet very powerful.
By 2009, Professor Belcher and her team were able to demonstrate the feasibility of virus-assembled batteries and their potential as cheaper and greener alternatives, because the batteries can be manufactured at room temperature without the use of solvents. The cutting-edge battery technology could have applications in automotive as well as mobile devices. They were able to build both the anode and cathode of a lithium-ion battery.