Laptops could charge by typing, thanks to a virus

Team from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory sets out to generate piezoelectric power from the M13 virus, commonly found in science labs.

Crave UK

Whether our laptop gives up just as we're about to finish a crucial report or our phone kicks the bucket when we're hopelessly lost, we've all felt the pain of running out of juice. Which is why we love the sound of laptops that can be charged by typing, or phones that power up as you walk . And it's all thanks to a genetically engineered virus that turns movement or pressure into electricity.

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory set out to generate piezoelectric power from the M13 virus, commonly found in science labs.

It's the first time scientists have generated electricity by harnessing the piezoelectric properties of a biological material. The piezoelectric effect was discovered in 1880 and sees a charge build up in crystals, ceramics, and even bone when placed under mechanical stress -- creating a spark in cigarette lighters or barbecues, for example.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists tested their approach by creating a generator that produces enough current to operate a small liquid-crystal display. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Read more of " Laptops could charge by typing thanks to a virus on the keys " at Crave UK.

About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.


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