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Angela Belcher 談利用大自然製造電池

Angela Belcher: Using nature to grow batteries

 

Photo of three lions hunting on the Serengeti.

講者:Angela Belcher

2011年1月演講,2011年4月在TEDxCaltech上線

 

翻譯:洪曉慧

編輯:朱學恆

簡繁轉換:洪曉慧

後製:洪曉慧

字幕影片後制:謝旻均

 

影片請按此下載

MAC及手持裝置版本請按此下載

閱讀中文字幕純文字版本

 

關於這場演講

以鮑魚殼為靈感,Angela Belcher計畫利用病毒製造人類可以使用的美妙奈米結構。藉由選擇高功能性基因進行定向演化,她生產出可以製造高性能新型電池、潔淨氫燃料和破紀錄太陽能電池的病毒。在TEDxCaltech中,她展示了病毒電池的運作方式。

 

關於Angela Belcher

Angela Belcher在大自然中尋找如何利用病毒製造非凡新材料的靈感。

 

為什麼要聽他演講

擁有創意研究學學士和無機化學博士頭銜的Angela Belcher,在解決能源問題方面獲得令人驚訝且創新的成果。

 

身為麻省理工學院生物分子材料團隊領導者,Belcher結合了材料化學、電子工程和分子生物學領域的研究,設計出能製造電池和潔淨能源的病毒。身為麥克阿瑟獎得主的她,還創立了Cambrios Technologies科技公司,這是一間以劍橋為基地的新創公司,專注於將她的研究成果應用在自然生物系統上,以製造及組裝電子、磁性及其他商業上重要的材料。2007年,《時代雜誌》將她譽為氣候變化英雄

 

〈觀看Angela Belcher的人生故事動畫〉

 

「Belcher每五年就涉足一個全新的科學領域。」

Jason Grow,《時代雜誌》

 

Angela Belcher的英語網上資料

At MIT: dmse.mit.edu

 

[TED科技‧娛樂‧設計]

已有中譯字幕的TED影片目錄(繁體)(簡體)。請注意繁簡目錄是不一樣的。

 

Angela Belcher 談利用大自然製造電池

我想我會講一些大自然製造材料的方式,我帶來一個鮑魚殼,這鮑魚殼是一種生物複合材料,其重量的98%是碳酸鈣,2%是蛋白質,然而,它的硬度為其地質相對成份的3000倍,很多人可能使用過類似鮑魚殼的結構,像粉筆。我一直對大自然製造材料的方式很著迷,經過很多程序,它們完成如此精密的工程。其中一部份是,這些材料的結構肉眼可見,但它們的形成是奈米級的,它們以奈米的層級形成,而他們使用基因層級編碼的蛋白質,使它們能夠建造這些相當精密的結構。

 

我認為非常迷人的是,如果你能給予非生物結構生命,像是電池和太陽能電池?如果他們有一些,如同一個鮑魚殼建立相當精密結構時表現出的功能,在常溫和常壓下,採用無毒化學藥品,且不會使有毒物質回歸到環境中?這是我一直在思考的美好遠景。如果能在培養皿中培養出電池呢?或者,如果能將遺傳訊息傳給電池,因此,它確實會隨著時間而變得更好,且使用一種對環境友善的方式?

 

因此,回到鮑魚殼上面。除了奈米結構,還有一件事很迷人,就是當一隻雄鮑和雌鮑結合在一起,牠們會傳遞遺傳訊息,內容是,「這是製造精密材料的方法,這是在常溫常壓下使用無毒材料製造的方法。」矽藻也是一樣,即圖上發光的東西,這是玻璃狀結構,每當矽藻進行複製時,就會傳遞像這樣的遺傳訊息,「這是在海中建造完美奈米結構玻璃的方法,你可以一次又一次地用同樣方法進行。」所以,如果可以在太陽能電池或電池上同樣這麼做呢?我得說,我最喜歡的生物材料是我四歲的孩子。

 

但任何曾有過、或瞭解幼童的人都知道,他們是極其複雜的有機體。所以,如果你想說服他們做一些他們不想做的事是相當困難的。所以,當我們考量未來科技時,我們想到的就是使用細菌和病毒,簡單的有機體,你能說服它們使用一個新的工具箱,讓它們建立一個對我很重要的結構嗎?

 

此外,我們考量到未來科技,我們從地球形成開始。基本上,經過十億年地球上才開始有生命存在,而非常迅速地,它們變成了多細胞有機體。它們可以複製,可以利用光合作用作為一種取得能量來源的方式,但直到大約五億年前,在寒武紀這個地質時期,海洋中的有機體開始製造硬質材料。在此之前,它們都是柔軟、蓬鬆的結構,而正是在這個時期,環境中的鈣、鐵和矽含量增加,有機體學習如何製造硬質材料,所以這就是我希望能夠做到的事,說服生物學跟週期表上其他元素合作。

 

現在,如果你審視生物學,有很多結構,如DNA和抗體,還有你聽說過的,那些已是奈米結構的蛋白質及核醣體。大自然已給予我們相當精密、納米層級的結構,如果我們能夠利用這些,說服它們不要成為像HIV病毒那樣作用的抗體?但如果我們能說服它們為我們製造一個太陽能電池呢?這裡有一些例子:這是一些天然貝殼。

 

這些是天然生物材料,鮑魚殼在這裡,如果你把它弄碎,你可以看出它確實是奈米結構。這是由二氧化矽組成的矽藻,它們是磁感細菌,能製造用於導航的單磁區小磁鐵,它們全都有一個共同點,這些材料擁有納米層級的結構,它們有一個DNA序列,為一種蛋白質序列的編碼,它給予它們一個藍圖,使他們能夠建造這些相當神奇的結構。現在回到鮑魚殼上。鮑魚藉由這些蛋白質製造這個殼,這些蛋白質具有相當大的陰電性,可以吸附環境中的鈣,形成一層鈣、一層碳酸鹽,再形成一層鈣、一層碳酸鹽,它帶有氨基酸的化學序列,所帶的訊息是,「這是製造這種結構的方法,這是DNA序列,這是蛋白質序列,可用於製造這個結構。」一個有趣的想法是,如果你可以使用任何想要的材料,或週期表上任何元素,找出其相應的DNA序列以及其相應蛋白質序列的編碼,建立一個結構,但不是製造一個鮑魚殼,製造某種在自然狀態中一直沒機會湊在一起的東西。

 

這是週期表,我相當喜歡週期表,為了每年進入麻省理工學院的新生,我製作一個週期表,上面寫著,「歡迎來到麻省理工,現在你已適得其所。」將它翻個面,這是氨基酸,標上其帶不同電荷時的PH值,我將這給了數千人,我知道上面寫的是麻省理工學院,這裡是加州理工學院,但如果有人想要,我還有多的。我相當幸運,歐巴馬總統今年在拜訪麻省理工學院時,拜訪我的實驗室。我真想給他一張週期表,所以熬夜時,我跟丈夫說,「我給歐巴馬總統一張週期表如何?」如果他說,「噢,我已經有一張了,」或者,「我已經背起來了呢?」於是,他來我的實驗室參觀,環顧四周,這是個很棒的拜訪,參觀之後,我說,「長官,我想給你一張週期表,以防萬一你遇到麻煩,需要計算分子量。」我認為分子量聽起來不像莫耳質量那麼乏味。然後,他看著它說,「謝謝妳,我會週期性地看它。」(笑聲)(掌聲)後來,在一次介紹潔淨能源的演講中,他將它拿了出來,說,「麻省理工學院的人給了我週期表。」

 

所以基本上,我沒告訴你們的是,大約在五億年前,有機體始祖開始製造材料,但它們大約花了五千萬年才得心應手,它們大約花了五千萬年,學習如何完美製造出這個鮑魚殼,你很難說服研究生說,「我有個偉大的計畫-得花五千萬年。」因此,我們必須開發一種方法,嘗試更迅速地做到這些。所以我們用一種病毒-無毒性的病毒,叫做M13噬菌體,它所做的是感染細菌,它有個簡單的DNA結構,你可以將它切下和接上額外的DNA序列,藉由這麼做,它可以讓病毒表現隨機的蛋白質序列。

 

這是相當容易的生物技術。基本上,你可以這麼做十億次,這樣就可以得到十億種不同的病毒,它們在基因上完全一致,但彼此末端一段蛋白質序列編碼不同。現在,如果你取出這十億個病毒,將它們放進一滴液體中,你可以迫使它們與任何週期表上你想要的元素反應,並透過選擇性演化過程,在十億個中取出一個,進行你想要它做的事,像是生長電池或太陽能電池。

 

所以基本上病毒無法自我複製,它們需要一個宿主,一旦你從十億個當中找出它來,你用它來感染細菌,就能製造出億萬個這個特定序列的複製品。生物學另一種美妙之處,在於它能給你有著良好接合性且相當精密的生物結構。這些病毒長而細,我們可以讓它們表現一些能力,生長出某種如半導體或電池材料的東西。

 

這是我實驗室中生長出的高出力電池,我們製造出一個能撐住碳奈米管的病毒,因此這個病毒的一部份抓住碳奈米管,病毒的另一部分有一段序列,能抓住電池的電極材料,然後將自己交纏到集電電極處。因此,藉由選擇演化的過程,我們由一開始製造出差勁電池的病毒,進行到能製造出良好電池的病毒,再進行到能製造出破紀錄高出力電池的病毒,一切都在常溫下進行,基本上是在實驗台上。這個電池被送去白宮參加記者會,我把它帶到這裡來,你可以看到,在這個範例中-它讓這個LED發光。現在,如果我們能改變它的規格,你可以實際將它用在你的Prius車上,這是我的夢想-能開一輛病毒動力車。

 

但基本上,你可以在十億個病毒當中挑出一個,你可以讓它大量擴增,基本上,你可以在實驗室裡進行擴增,你可以讓它自我聚合,變成一個類似電池的結構,我們可以使用催化反應做到這一點。這是個例子,藉由光催化分解水,我們已經能夠做到,基本上,讓一個病毒吸附染料吸收分子,讓它們排列在病毒表面,它會有類似天線的用途,讓能量傳遞到病毒,然後,我們給它第二個基因,來生長一種無機材料,用於將水分解成氧和氫,因此可用於製造潔淨燃料。我今天帶來一個範例,我的學生保證它會產生反應。這是病毒聚合而成的奈米線圈,當你用光照射時,可以看到它們冒泡。在這個範例中,冒出的是氧氣氣泡,它基本上是由基因控制,你可以控制多種材料,來提高設備性能。

 

最後一個例子是太陽能電池,你也可以用這個做太陽能電池,我們已經能夠讓病毒撐起碳奈米管,然後讓它們周圍長出二氧化鈦。基本上,藉此方式讓電子穿越這個裝置。現在我們發現的是,藉由基因工程,我們事實上可以增加這些太陽能電池的效能,刷新數種這類型染料敏化系統的紀錄。我也帶來了其中一種,你們可以演講後在外面玩玩看。因此,這是一種以病毒為基礎的太陽能電池,藉由演化和選擇,我們將效能為百分之八的太陽能電池,提升為擁有百分之十一效能的太陽能電池。

 

因此,我希望能說服你們,在大自然如何製造材料方面,有許多偉大、有趣的東西需要學習,並進行到下個階段,看看你是否能克服障礙,或利用大自然製造材料的方法,製造出大自然意想不到的東西。

 

謝謝。

 

以下為系統擷取之英文原文

About this talk

Inspired by an abalone shell, Angela Belcher programs viruses to make elegant nanoscale structures that humans can use. Selecting for high-performing genes through directed evolution, she's produced viruses that can construct powerful new batteries, clean hydrogen fuels and record-breaking solar cells. At TEDxCaltech, she shows us how it's done.

About Angela Belcher

Angela Belcher looks to nature for inspiration on how to engineer viruses to create extraordinary new materials. Full bio and more links

Transcript

I thought I would talk a little bit about how nature makes materials. I brought along with me an abalone shell. This abalone shell is a biocomposite material that's 98 percent by mass calcium carbonate and two percent by mass protein. Yet, it's 3,000 times tougher than its geological counterpart. And a lot of people might use structures like abalone shells, like chalk. I've been fascinated by how nature makes materials, and there's a lot of sequence to how they do such an exquisite job. Part of it is that these materials are macroscopic in structure, but they're formed at the nanoscale. They're formed at the nanoscale, and they use proteins that are coded by the genetic level that allow them to build these really exquisite structures.

So something I think is very fascinating is what if you could give life to non-living structures, like batteries and like solar cells? What if they had some of the same capabilities that an abalone shell did, in terms of being able to build really exquisite structures at room temperature and room pressure, using non-toxic chemicals and adding no toxic materials back into the environment? So that's the vision that I've been thinking about. And so what if you could grow a battery in a petri dish? Or, what if you could give genetic information to a battery so that it could actually become better as a function of time, and do so in an environmentally friendly way?

And so, going back to this abalone shell, besides being nano-structured, one thing that's fascinating, is when a male and a female abalone get together, they pass on the genetic information that says, "This is how to build an exquisite material. Here's how to do it at room temperature and pressure, using non-toxic materials." Same with diatoms, which are shone right here, which are glasseous structures. Every time the diatoms replicate, they give the genetic information that says, "Here's how to build glass in the ocean that's perfectly nano-structured. And you can do it the same, over and over again." So what if you could do the same thing with a solar cell or a battery? I like to say my favorite biomaterial is my four year-old.

But anyone who's ever had, or knows, small children knows they're incredibly complex organisms. And so if you wanted to convince them to do something they don't want to do, it's very difficult. So when we think about future technologies, we actually think of using bacteria and virus, simple organisms. Can you convince them to work with a new tool box, so that they can build a structure that will be important to me?

Also, we think about future technologies. We start with the beginning of Earth. Basically, it took a billion years to have life on Earth. And very rapidly, they became multi-cellular, they could replicate, they could use photosynthesis as a way of getting their energy source. But it wasn't until about 500 million years ago -- during the Cambrian geologic time period -- that organisms in the ocean started making hard materials. Before that they were all soft, fluffy structures. And it was during this time that there was increased calcium and iron and silicon in the environment. And organisms learned how to make hard materials. And so that's what I would like be able to do -- convince biology to work with the rest of the periodic table.

Now if you look at biology, there's many structures like DNA and antibodies and proteins and ribosomes that you've heard about that are already nano-structured. So nature already gives us really exquisite structures on the nanoscale. What if we could harness them and convince them to not be an antibody that does something like HIV? But what if we could convince them to build a solar cell for us? So here are some examples: these are some natural shells.

There are natural biological materials. The abalone shell here -- and if you fracture it, you can look at the fact that it's nano-structured. There's diatoms made out of SIO2, and they're magnetotactic bacteria that make small, single-domain magnets used for navigation. What all these have in common is these materials are structured at the nanoscale, and they have a DNA sequence that codes for a protein sequence, that gives them the blueprint to be able to build these really wonderful structures. Now, going back to the abalone shell, the abalone makes this shell by having these proteins. These proteins are very negatively charged. And they can pull calcium out of the environment, put down a layer of calcium and then carbonate, calcium and carbonate. It has the chemical sequences of amino acids which says, "This is how to build the structure. Here's the DNA sequence, here's the protein sequence in order to do it." And so an interesting idea is, what if you could take any material that you wanted, or any element on the periodic table, and find its corresponding DNA sequence, then code it for a corresponding protein sequence to build a structure, but not build an abalone shell -- build something that, through nature, it has never had the opportunity to work with yet.

And so here's the periodic table. And I absolutely love the periodic table. Every year for the incoming freshman class at MIT, I have a periodic table made that says, "Welcome to MIT. Now you're in your element." And you flip it over, and it's the amino acids with the PH at which they have different charges. And so I give this out to thousands of people. And I know it says MIT, and this is Caltech, but I have a couple extra if people want it. And I was really fortunate to have President Obama visit my lab this year on his visit to MIT, and I really wanted to give him a periodic table. So I stayed up at night, and I talked to my husband, "How do I give President Obama a periodic table? What if he says, 'Oh, I already have one,' or, 'I've already memorized it'?" And so he came to visit my lab and looked around -- it was a great visit. And then afterward, I said, "Sir, I want to give you the periodic table in case you're ever in a bind and need to calculate molecular weight." And I thought molecular weight sounded much less nerdy than molar mass. And so he looked at it, and he said, "Thank you. I'll look at it periodically." (Laughter) (Applause) And later in a lecture that he gave on clean energy, he pulled it out and said, "And people at MIT, they give out periodic tables."

So basically what I didn't tell you is that about 500 million years ago, organisms starter making materials, but it took them about 50 million years to get good at it. It took them about 50 million years to learn how to perfect how to make that abalone shell. And that's a hard sell to a graduate student. "I have this great project -- 50 million years." And so we had to develop a way of trying to do this more rapidly. And so we use a virus that's a non-toxic virus called M13 bacteriophage that's job is to infect bacteria. Well it has a simple DNA structure that you can go in and cut and paste additional DNA sequences into it. And by doing that, it allows the virus to express random protein sequences.

And this is pretty easy biotechnology. And you could basically do this a billion times. And so you can go in and have a billion different viruses that are all genetically identical, but they differ from each other based on their tips, on one sequence that codes for one protein. Now if you take all billion viruses, and you can put them in one drop of liquid, you can force them to interact with anything you want on the periodic table. And through a process of selection evolution, you can pull one of a billion that does something that you'd like it to do, like grow a battery or grow a solar cell.

So basically, viruses can't replicate themselves, they need a host. Once you find that one out of a billion, you infect it into a bacteria, and you make millions and billions of copies of that particular sequence. And so the other thing that's beautiful about biology is that biology gives you really exquisite structures with nice link scales. And these viruses are long and skinny, and we can get them to express the ability to grow something like semiconductors or materials for batteries.

Now this is a high-powered battery that we grew in my lab. We engineered a virus to pick up carbon nanotubes. So one part of the virus grabs a carbon nanotube. The other part of the virus has a sequence that can grow an electrode material for a battery. And then it wires itself to the current collector. And so through a process of selection evolution, we went from having a virus that made a crummy battery to a virus that made a good battery to a virus that made a record-breaking, high-powered battery that's all made at room temperature, basically at the bench top. And that battery went to the White House for a press conference. I brought it here. You can see it in this case -- that's lighting this LED. Now if we could scale this, you could actually use it to run your Prius, which is my dream -- to be able to drive a virus-powered car.

But it's basically -- you can pull one out of a billion. You can make lots of amplifications to it. Basically, you make an amplification in the lab. And then you get it to self-assemble into a structure like a battery. We're able to do this also with catalysis. This is the example of photocatalytic splitting of water. And what we've been able to do is engineer a virus to basically take dye absorbing molecules and line them up on the surface of the virus so it acts as an antenna, and you get an energy transfer across the virus. And then we give it a second gene to grow an inorganic material that can be used to split water into oxygen and hydrogen, that can be used for clean fuels. And I brought an example with me of that today. My students promised me it would work. These are virus-assembled nanowires. When you shine light on them, you can see them bubbling. In this case, you're seeing oxygen bubbles come out. And basically by controlling the genes, you can control multiple materials to improve your device performance.

The last example are solar cells. You can also do this with solar cells. We've been able to engineer viruses to pick up carbon nanotubes and then grow titanium dioxide around them -- and use as a way of getting electrons through the device. And what we've found is that, through genetic engineering, we can actually increase the efficiencies of these solar cells to record numbers for these types of dye-sensitized systems. And I brought one of those as well that you can play around with outside afterward. So this is a virus-based solar cell. Through evolution and selection, we took it from an eight percent efficiency solar cell to an 11 percent efficiency solar cell.

So I hope that I've convinced you that there's a lot of great, interesting things to be learned about how nature makes materials -- and taking it to the next step to see if you can force, or whether you can take advantage of how nature makes materials, to make things that nature hasn't yet dreamed of making.

Thank you.
 


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