Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 7 (6), 351-6

Virus-based Piezoelectric Energy Generation


Virus-based Piezoelectric Energy Generation

Byung Yang Lee et al. Nat Nanotechnol.


Piezoelectric materials can convert mechanical energy into electrical energy, and piezoelectric devices made of a variety of inorganic materials and organic polymers have been demonstrated. However, synthesizing such materials often requires toxic starting compounds, harsh conditions and/or complex procedures. Previously, it was shown that hierarchically organized natural materials such as bones, collagen fibrils and peptide nanotubes can display piezoelectric properties. Here, we demonstrate that the piezoelectric and liquid-crystalline properties of M13 bacteriophage (phage) can be used to generate electrical energy. Using piezoresponse force microscopy, we characterize the structure-dependent piezoelectric properties of the phage at the molecular level. We then show that self-assembled thin films of phage can exhibit piezoelectric strengths of up to 7.8 pm V(-1). We also demonstrate that it is possible to modulate the dipole strength of the phage, hence tuning the piezoelectric response, by genetically engineering the major coat proteins of the phage. Finally, we develop a phage-based piezoelectric generator that produces up to 6 nA of current and 400 mV of potential and use it to operate a liquid-crystal display. Because biotechnology techniques enable large-scale production of genetically modified phages, phage-based piezoelectric materials potentially offer a simple and environmentally friendly approach to piezoelectric energy generation.

Comment in

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 55 articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Nat Nanotechnol. 2010 May;5(5):340-4 - PubMed
    1. ACS Nano. 2010 Feb 23;4(2):610-4 - PubMed
    1. Nanotechnology. 2009 Feb 25;20(8):085706 - PubMed
    1. Science. 2006 Apr 14;312(5771):242-6 - PubMed
    1. Q Rev Biophys. 1983 Feb;16(1):59-87 - PubMed

Publication types

LinkOut - more resources