Biology

Using nature to grow batteries: Angela Belcher on TED.com

Posted by: Jenny Zurawell

Inspired by an abalone shell, Angela Belcher programs viruses to make elegant nanoscale structures that humans can use. Selecting for high-performing genes through directed evolution, she’s produced viruses that can construct powerful new batteries, clean hydrogen fuels and record-breaking solar cells. At TEDxCaltech, she shows us how it’s done. (Recorded at TEDxCaltech, January 2011 at Pasadena, CA. Duration: 10:26)

Watch Angela Belcher’s talk on TED.com where you can download it, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 900+ TEDTalks.
Photo: Dominick Reuter

Comments (7)

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  • Theban Tonnesen commented on Nov 19 2011

    I was thinking “Back to the Future” in saying that, but in technical terms I think it really would be called a flux capacitor. This could be a solution to the EV battery paradox. Since you can only fit about 400-500 watts of solar on a mid-sized vehicle’s surface; I’m hoping virus power can be surpass solar cells someday in the form of a vehicles continuous charging source….

    Or perhaps a virus that creates a tremendous amount of heat when properly stimulated (instead of using dangerous radioisotopes) to fuel existing steam turbines and nuclear power plants. Now there’s a retrofit I’d like to see…

  • Theban Tonnesen commented on Nov 19 2011

    Can anyone say flux capacitor?

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  • Gerry Mann commented on Apr 28 2011

    Is it possible to engineer a virus to infect a host bacteria to eat the plastic waste in the oceans without otherwise harming the environment?

  • commented on Apr 27 2011

    this is very interesting. is the age of biofuels approaching? let’s hope so! :)

    • commented on Apr 30 2011

      Yes, let’s (hope that the age of biofuels is upon us)!

      With Love and Gratitude,

      Jeremiah