(Beijerinck in his lab)
The tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) infects a variety of plants including tobacco, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and many more, but does not infect animals. It has been responsible for up to two percent of North Carolina's tobacco loss every year and is particularly terrible for greenhouse crop growers.
(Tobacco Mosaic Disease)
Although this virus has been known for over 100 years, recently scientists have discovered a new use for this terrible pathogen. You see, TMV nanorods are the right size and shape to bond to lithium battery electrodes, thereby dramatically increasing the surface area of the electrode. TMV is self-replicating, self-assembling and can bind to metal without a bonding agent.
So what does this mean in practical terms? It may mean that we could produce batteries of the same size that can hold 10 times the charge. Your cell phone could run for a week or more without needing to be charged. You could use your laptop all day without plugging in and it could stay running in sleep mode for the better part of a year. Environmentally, it means that we might need much less energy production for the same result!