Nanotechnology's Promise of Virus-Enabled Lithium-Ion Batteries

Last week my rueful exposition on the state of applying nanotechnology to mobile phones received support and encouragement from Kristen Kulinowski, who was recently highlighted over at Andrew Maynardâ''s 20/20 blog.

In addition to the encouragement, I was asked about my supposition on the possibility of virus-enabled lithium-ion batteries being commercially available by the end of this year.

These batteries build on Angela Belcherâ''s research at MIT of getting organic materials, like a man-made virus, to attract inorganic materials like gold, or in the case of this battery technology the viruses coat themselves with iron phosphate.

But as far as this technology being in batteries by the end of year, I have to say I have not heard that. If I did hear someone say that I would have to laugh quietly (or silently) to myself.

You see, Dr. Belcher along with Evelyn Hu of the University of California, Santa Barbara set up Cambrios Technologies Corp. in 2002 to commercialize the early work that Hu and Belcher did in this area. Let me repeat: in 2002. And as far as I know, and I am open to correction here, there is no commercial use of their technology at this point.

It is difficult to do the kind of ground-breaking science Belcher and others have done, but its difficulty pales in comparison to getting lab work into a commercially available product. In other words, let's be prepared to hold our breaths past the end of this year.

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