A new biotemplated, flexible piezoelectric energy harvesting device (nano-generator) has been created by researchers from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at KAIST. The researchers think that the new device/technology could allow next-generation LCD screens and LED bulbs to be powered by nothing but “simple finger movements.”
The nano-generators are composed of a form of barium titanate (BaTiO3) that’s synthesized biologically with the aid of a genetically modified virus — in the GMO viruses, the “M13” viral gene is the one modified.
KAIST provides more:
Nature has its own capabilities to spontaneously synthesize and self-assemble universal materials with sophisticated architectures such as shells, sea sponges, and bone minerals. For instance, the natural sea shell, consisting of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), is very rigid and tough whereas the artificial chalk made by the same material is fragile. In addition, most artificial syntheses (of said materials) are performed under toxic, expensive and extreme conditions, in contrast to the natural syntheses, which are processed in benign and mild surroundings. If humans can mimic these biological abilities, a variety of ecological and material issues can be solved.
The KAIST team modified a M13 viral gene, which is harmless to human and widely exist in nature, to utilize its remarkable ability of synthesizing a highly piezoelectric inorganic material, barium titanate (BaTiO3). By using this biotemplated piezoelectric material, a high-output flexible nanogenerator could be fabricated with an enhanced performance. The flexible piezoelectric nanogenerator that converts mechanical energy of tiny movements into electrical energy is an attractive candidate for the next generation energy harvesting technology.
Lead researcher Professor Keon Jae Lee, of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at KAIST, stated: “This is the first time to introduce a biotemplated inorganic piezoelectric material to a self-powered energy harvesting system, which can be realized through eco-friendly and efficient material syntheses.”
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