Lithium-Air Batteries Get A Virus Boost

The quest of finding the better power alternatives have been on for quite some time now and a lot of research work has been put in behind the lithium-air batteries in recent years. It is so, because lithium-air batteries are a promising prospect as far as ‘power per weight’ aspect is concerned. Attaining high amount of efficiency has been a major challenge for the scientists working in this direction. But a recent work by researcher at MIT has shown a way of increasing the performance of lithium-air batteries.


The study aimed at developing suitable material for the electrodes of battery. It was found that the surface area of electrodes can be increased by adding a genetically modified virus M13. Researchers produced an array of nano wires (80 nanometers across) using this virus which could capture the molecules of metal from water and bind them into a structure. Increase in surface area of the electrode means increasing the area of electro-chemical activity. This in turn can improve charging speed or simply the charging and discharging cycles of the battery. “Unlike conventional fabrication methods, which involve energy-intensive high temperatures and hazardous chemicals, this process can be carried out at room temperature using a water-based process,” said Angela Belcher, the Professor of Energy and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, talking about the feasibility of the process.

The research is in early stages and only the cathode has been developed using the virus yet and has been tested for only fifty charging-discharging cycles. But, if more efforts are put in, it can be seen as an important contribution towards development of a commercially viable product. This newly found ‘viral manipulation’ could well prove to be a boon for the battery operated electric cars, which have hounded by the issues of battery power and the driving range. This has been a big reason behind the commercial failure of these cars. The video below will give you a better idea of the synthesis.

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