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Journal of Nanotechnology
Volume 2012, Article ID 516309, 9 pages
Research Article

A Protein-Based Ferritin Bio-Nanobattery

1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602, USA
2Advanced Materials and Processing Branch, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia 23666, USA
3Industrial Bioscience Department, Genencor, Shanghai, China
4Department of Chemical Engineering, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602, USA
5Department of Physics and Astronomy, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602, USA
6National Institute of Aerospace, Hampton, VA 23666, USA

Received 26 January 2012; Accepted 20 March 2012

Academic Editor: A. M. Rao

Copyright © 2012 Gerald D. Watt et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Nanostructured materials are increasingly important for the construction of electrochemical energy storage devices that will meet the needs of portable nanodevices. Here we describe the development of a nanoenergy storage system based on inorganic mineral phases contained in ferritin proteins. The electrochemical cell consists of an anode containing ~2000 iron atoms as Fe(OH)2 in the hollow protein interior of ferritin and a cathode containing ~2000 of Co(OH)3 in a separate ferritin molecule. The achieved initial voltage output from a combination of Fe2+- and Co3+-ferritins adsorbed on gold electrodes was ~500 mV, while a combination of Fe2+- and Co3+-ferritins immobilized on gold produced a voltage of 350–405 mV. When fully discharged, Fe(OH)3 and Co(OH)2 are the products of a single electron transfer per metal atom from anode to cathode. The spent components can be regenerated by chemical or electrochemical methods restoring battery function. The properties of ferritins are presented and their unique characteristics are described, which have led to the development of a functional bio-nanobattery.