A nano-technology researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is working with viruses to build faster, better, cheaper and environmentally-friendly transistors, batteries, solar cells, diagnostic materials for detecting cancer, and semiconductors for use in modern electrical devices.
Viruses are normally associated with causing human diseases like AIDS, polio, and influenza, and can lead to computer system crashes and data loss, but researcher Angela Belcher is exploiting a virus's ability to do good things in the semi-conductor and electronic sector.
Belcher claims that her green nano-factories generate little waste, grow at room temperature, and promise to be inexpensive and largely biodegradable.
A 2004 winner of the MacArthur Foundation "Genius Award," Dr. Belcher says that her latest research could address the energy crisis, the need for better medical treatments, and the demand for clean water.
"Nano-technology is the future. In 2006 alone, governments, corporations, and venture capitalists spent 12 billion dollars on nano-technology research and development worldwide. Nano-technology promises to change just about everything-our medical care, energy sources, communications and food. It is leading us to what many in government and industry are calling 'The Next Industrial Revolution.' Society needs to prepare now for how to exploit and harness its potential, especially to ensure that nano-technology makes possible a greener, more sustainable tomorrow," said David Rejeski, director of the project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Wilson Center.
"Dr. Belcher's research with viruses, proteins and yeast offers hope for new, ground-breaking solutions to the world's energy problems. It holds out the prospect of using nano-technology in a variety of ways," he added.