James Clark School of Engineering and College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, are using a virus first discovered back in 1898 to help improve the energy capacity of batteries.
The Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) from 1898 has a rigid rod like structure when viewed under an electron microscope. The research team have now been able to harness and exploit the self-replicating and self-renewing characteristics of TMV virus to assist in the building of tiny components for more efficient lithium-ion batteries.
Researchers first modified the TMV virus structure rods to bind perpendicularly to the metallic surface of a battery electrode and arrange the rods in intricate and orderly patterns on the electrode resulting in an increased surface area.
These new batteries can then provide an increased energy capacity of up to 10 fold of a standard lithium-ion battery. Luckily the TMV virus becomes inert during the manufacturing process so cant spread the virus.