BY MATTHEW PICHT
ANCHOR EMILY ALLEN
An experiment leads to a shocking discovery. A research team at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed a virus that generates electricity when prodded. ABC News explains...
"By pressing down on this thin rubbery film, Professor Seung-Wuk Lee is generating electricity--enough to power a small digital circuit."
The circuit is being powered by what scientists are calling harmless genetically engineered viruses.
When pressure is applied to these layers, they convert the mechanical force into electricity.
Science magazine notes this isn't the first invention to harness mechanical energy in this way.
"They take advantage of the "piezoelectric effect," which was first discovered in 1880 and is a property of certain crystals, proteins, and even DNA...Today, piezoelectrics are used in everything from electric lighters to scanning tunneling microscopes."
What makes these viruses different is they're biological--making them safer, cheaper, and easier to handle than similar generators.
"The piezoelectric devices that are currently on the market rely upon toxic materials such as lead and lithium ... (so) ... scientists turned to a biological solution."
While the model generator isn't quite ready for commercial implementation, researchers hope the device will lead to more research and development.