Of late the practice of genetically modified organisms is a touchy subject, but Angela Belcher might just change any negative stigma surrounding the technology. Dr. Belcher, a professor at MIT has used the genius of life it’s self to possibly address our energy needs. She, along with her MIT grad students have genetically modified Viruses and injected them into genetically modified bacteria cells to successfully code them to grow batteries and solar cells among other things. The science is complicated as one might imagine, and most likely I’ll get a regurgitation of the process slightly wrong.
Her single celled organisms have been coded to bind to particular types of metal and grow batteries and solar cells at room temperature, without lithium, without extensive processing, and intriguingly and mouth watering for many in the renewable sector, without harmful byproduct. The battery and the solar cell that she has been able to engineer both have record efficiency, a hurdle that is always a little too high when it comes to energy production or storage.
This type of technology reminds me of what people where imagining about the 2000teen’s in the 50’s, it might not be a flying car but a common cold growing a photovoltaic cell sounds even futuristic to even me. She’s done this by using bacterium to grow nanowires and self assemble structures capable of holding an electric charge, to convert photon particles into electrical current.
Though the physics are baffling by it’s self, most intriguing and inspiring about this innovation is the fact that she has grown something we store energy. Possibly redefining the paradigm of what maybe our whole culture is built. Though I would be naive to think that my single brain is capable of prediction so I’ll just let you watch her…