Science has not been able to control the spread of the coronavirus until now, however, there is good news regarding viruses.

How viruses act and how they can benefit

Viruses are continual head-scratchers for scientists because they’re not technically alive, but they do contain genetic material either DNA or RNA depending on what kind of virus we’re talking about. Viruses can’t replicate on their own they have to inject their genetic material into a living cell and get that cell to replicate their genetic material for them. We can call them microscopic pirates. This innovation is about exploiting the thing the viruses do best, DNA hijacking.

Viruses are microscopic and that is what makes them dangerous when it comes to disease, On the other hand, viruses can actually also be really helpful when it comes to bioengineering. The pioneer team of M. I. T (Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university in Cambridge, US) that’s using viruses for powering their own devices.

How viruses charge the batteries

MIT team recognizes that while viruses insert their genome (A genome is an organism’s complete set of genetic instructions. Each genome contains all of the information needed to build that organism) into humans cells for destructive purposes, We on the other hand can also insert our information into their genome to make useful stuff. They’re working with the M13 bacteriophage and the bacteriophage is a kind of virus that only infects bacteria. Its structure is relatively simple and easy to manipulate. Scientists expose batches of this virus to a material they wanted to latch on to, like say a specific kind of metal. The natural or engineered mutations (A mutation is a change that occurs in our DNA sequence) in the virus’s genome alters the virus’s surface to be able to hook on to the material of our choice.

The scientists then take the data of the viruses that have properly learned to latch/hook on to the material and pop them into the bacteria. That virus normally, in fact, make millions of copies of those modified viruses and if you repeat this process over and over those bacteria basically become viral replication factories.

That’s super cool!! but how the heck one can make batteries from a metal hugging virus

ell for this the kind of metal matters. Scientists can make a batch of viruses that latch on to cobalt oxide or another batch to manganese oxide. That’s the most beautiful thing about the genetic modification of relatively simple organisms. It’s kind of just cut and paste, you can do this for tons of elements on the periodic table.

But the particular materials mentioned above (cobalt oxide and manganese oxide) sound familiar because we use them in some batteries. The best part about this technique is that these viruses can be engineered to get metal to climb on to them but also those metal-coated viruses can then start to stick to each other and this forms what is called nano wires (Nano-wires can be used for MOS field-effect transistors. MOS transistors are used widely as fundamental building elements in today’s electronic circuits.) that’s metal coated by wristband wires which can then be used in battery electrodes.

The virus made Lithium-Ion Battery

Back in 2009 MIT team was able to make Lithium Ion Battery using this viral assembly technique and the battery worked. It powered LED light. The team is working on using these microbial factories to make lithium-oxygen batteries also called lithium-air batteries that’s literally a kind of battery where oxygen is what spurs the chemical reaction that makes the battery work and that means that with a continual supply of oxygen as opposed to a finite supply of electrolyte within a battery cell lithium-oxygen battery could theoretically store 10 times more energy in relation to its mass than a lithium ion.


By Qamar Kazmi

Qamar Kazmi is a content writer who previously has worked in numerous semi-government and private sector organizations as a business development resource. He is focused on the subjects not usually covered in conventional news and discussions. He is specialized in explaining events from his own perspective and point of view.

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