Virus-Built Electronics

A team led by Angela Belcher at MIT are using viruses as self-organizing templates to create new nanomaterials.  Viruses form orderly patterns when sufficiently concentrated, and can be modified to bind inorganic materials.  This approach has been used to create thin films for rechargeable batteries.  Belcher is developing ways of creating specialized fibers.

The article describes how 'directed evolution' can be used to identify the changes required such that the virus will bind to specific materials.  Although a form of genetic engineering, the results may help us understand the principles behind self-assembly in nature.  In addition, the viruses are used in a manufacturing process - adequate controls would need to be implemented to avoid spreading the virus.

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