A devastating virus that affects a wide range of plants including tobacco, tomatoes and peppers, has been found to increase the storage capacity of lithium batteries tenfold.
According to PhysOrg, researchers at the University of Maryland have found that the virus, which takes a rod-like form at the cellular level, can be harnessed to vastly increase the surface area of an electrode.
The virus cells are able to perpendicularly bind themselves to the metal surface of an electrode, and are then arranged in to orderly but intricate patterns. The cells are then coated with a conductive film and finally the active electrochemical component.
The result is that the battery’s surface area is vastly increased, which allows it to hold ten times the charge of standard batteries, as well as charge and discharge at a faster rate.
Another benefit is that the manufacturing process renders the virus inert, meaning that it will not affect any plants in the area.
“The resulting batteries are a leap forward in many ways and will be ideal for use not only in small electronic devices but in novel applications that have been limited so far by the size of the required battery,” said the head of the project, Professor Reza Ghodssi.