Seung-Wuk Lee1

1, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California, United States

Piezoelectric materials can convert mechanical energy into electrical energy, and piezoelectric devices made of various inorganic materials and organic polymers have been demonstrated. However, synthesizing such materials often requires toxic materials, harsh conditions and/or complex procedures. Recently, it was shown that hierarchically organized natural materials, such as bones, collagen fibrils and peptide nanotubes, can display piezoelectric properties. In my presentation, I will show our innovative approach to produce virus-based piezoelectric energy generation. Recently, we establish 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 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. We also demonstrate that it is possible to modulate the dipole strength of phage, and hence tune their piezoelectric response by genetically engineering the phage’s major coat proteins. Finally, we develop a phage-based piezoelectric generator that produces up to 100 nA of current and 2 V of potential, and use it to operate a liquid crystal display and light emitting diodes. Because biotechnology techniques enable large-scale production of genetically modified phages, phage-based piezoelectric materials potentially offer a simple and environment-friendly approach to piezoelectricity generation.