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Bacteria to power cell phones

Scientists say they have created a unique method of harnessing electricity from a virus that could power cell phones.  A team from the University of California, Berkeley, is apparently making use of the virus, known as M12 bacteriophage, in order to replace toxic elements that are used to charge new and old cell phones.

The virus is in possession of a property referred to as piezoelectricity, which means that it is capable of translating mechanical energy into electrical energy.  Scientists believe that the find might pave the way for cell phones that can be can be charged up whilst you are walking and might be able to replace the kind of toxic piezoelectric elements already used in cell phones.

The great majority of cell phone microphones are piezoelectric because they need be able to convert the energy that comes from sound waves into electrical output that can be transmitted, and then ultimately translated back into the form of sound waves on the other end of the line.  The piezoelectric elements that are currently used are made from heavy, toxic elements such as cadmium and lead, says bio-engineer Seung-Wuk Lee.

M13 bacteriophage is able to generate electricity when compressed without requiring any involvement from toxic chemicals.  Lee and his colleagues discovered that the pencil-shaped MI13 virus is possibly an ideal energy source because the virus is completely harmless to humans as well as being very simple and inexpensive to make.