The M13 virus consists of a strand of DNA (the figure-8 coil on the right) attached to a bundle of proteins called peptides - the virus coat proteins which attach to the carbon nanotubes and hold them in place. A coating of titanium dioxide (yellow spheres) attached to dye molecules (pink spheres) surrounds the bundle. (Image: Matt Klug, Biomolecular Materials Group)
Last year, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced that they had successfully used carbon nanotubes for "funneling" and concentrating electrons in photovoltaic cells – this meant that smaller solar cells created using the nanotubes could produce as much or more electricity than larger conventional cells. Now, the efficiency of these nanotube solar cells is being boosted further ... with the help of a virus.