Women in Nanoscience

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Women in Nano Blog

Batteries made from viruses? Yes, Angela Belcher uses nature to build a better battery

Posted on February 21, 2016 at 6:35 PM

It is clear that we will need more efficient, inexpensive batteries if intermittent energy sources like wind and solar are to be usedto maximum extent. Prof. Angela Belcher of MIT is making strides in creating batteries that are thin, flexible and shape-variable using genetically modified viruses. Her work is inspired by nature’s own way of assembling materials to create strong and powerful structures. Inspired by the way a snail builds its own shell by gathering materials from its surroundings; Belcher creates a virus that attracts materials to itself. She demonstrated that modifying the DNA of the virus encodes proteins on its surface which attract charge-conducting ions of materials like gold and cobalt oxide. These ions cover the surface of the virus along its length to create nanowires which act as connections between the electrodes in the battery. Learn more about this exciting work here.


(Prof. Belcher with her Biological Engineering undergraduate teaching lab in fall 2015.)


Prof. Belcher is a material scientist and a biological engineer. She received her BA degree in creative arts and a PhD in chemistry from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her outstanding work has been recognized through awards including, notably, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. She is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. In her free time, Prof. Belcher likes to travel with her family.


(Prof. Belcher with her family on a vacation to Iceland last summer).


- Written by Nakita Sengar, edited by Paulette Clancy


(Photo credit: Provided by and used with permission from Prof. Angela Belcher).

Categories: WINnews

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