This Bacteria-Powered Device Could Keep Your Phone Charged Forever

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protein nanowires
Thin film of protein nanowire (Source:

While Apple is working on launching wireless charging pads, researchers have invented a new technology using which you can charge the phone from the air in the room. Researchers have invented a device dubbed ‘Air-gen’ which generates electricity from water vapor using natural protein.

Electrical engineer and Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Jun Yao said that he is trying to make electricity “out of thin air”. Yao is accompanied by microbiologist and professor Derek Lovely for developing the generator.

A film of nanometre-scale which is around one-billionth of a meter is used in the generator. The protein wires in Air-gen are made from Geobacter sulfurreducens, a microbe capable of electricity. Researchers connected the wires to electrodes and electricity is conducted using the water vapor present in the air.

Earlier, the existing technologies that could generate energy from moisture were only able to produce irregular bursts of energy which usually lasted a maximum of 50 seconds. In the tests, Air-gen successfully generated a sustained voltage of 0.5 volts across a 7-micrometer-thick film, with a current density of around 17 microamperes/cm². Connecting several devices linearly could further amplify the energy-generation.

The Air-gen produces clean energy 24/7 and is one of the most unique and amazing uses of protein nanowires. As of now, Air-gen can only supply enough power to charge small electronic devices that do not require much power to run. Developers are putting all their efforts to make it scalable for smartphones.

The next big step towards the development of Air-gen is that the developers will test it on smartwatches and fitness trackers. After that, the team of developers will look forward to increasing the capacity of Air-gen to charge a phone. This is soon going to discard the need for periodic charging in the near future. It won’t be wrong to say that Air-gen could soon replace chargers altogether.

Smartphone batteries are getting better with the latest modifications. Manufacturers are also trying to decrease the time of charging with the help of fast charging technology. Soon, wireless charging and air-based charging will remove wired charging from the market.

Starting with small scale electronic gadgets like smartwatch and fitness trackers, Professor Yao aims to achieve mobile charging with Air-gen.


Nishit Raghuwanshi

Nishit Raghuwanshi

A Journalism grad from Lucknow who loves writing tech news. Interested in the latest smartphones, apps, mobile gaming, and general tech. When he’s not busy covering tech developments, you can find him writing or performing rap somewhere in Delhi.

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