Angela M. Belcher is a materials scientist, biological engineer, and W.M. Keck Professor of Energy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. She is director of the Biomolecular Materials Group at MIT and a 2004 MacArthur Fellow.
Belcher grew up in San Antonio, Texas. She attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she received her Bachelor's degree from the College of Creative Studies in 1991 and her Ph.D. in chemistry in 1997.
After studying abalone shells, she worked with several colleagues at MIT and engineered a virus, known as the M13 bacteriophage whose target is usually Escherichia coli. M13 can be made to latch onto and coat itself with inorganic materials including gold and cobalt oxide. The long tubular virus now acts as a minuscule length of wire called a nanowire. Belcher's group coaxed many of these nanowires together and found that they resemble the basic components of a potentially very powerful and compact battery. In 2002 she founded Cambrios with Evelyn L. Hu of University of California, Santa Barbara. Their vision relied upon the use of nanostructured inorganic materials, fabricated and shaped by biological molecules to create novel materials and processes for a variety of industries.
Now it's simply a matter of designing the other components, and we'll be able to form batteries by simply pouring all the ingredients together and letting them self-assemble. Plus we can make them at room temperature in very safe conditions, instead of the high temperatures and dangers usually associated with battery production.