New method produce electricity from tears, saliva, egg whites

New method to produce electricity from tears, saliva, egg whites

9:34 AM, 5th October 2017
New method to produce electricity from tears, saliva, egg whites
Scientists have discovered that applying pressure to a protein found in egg whites and tears can generate electricity. (File photo)

LIMERICK, IRELAND: A team of researchers at the University of Limerick has discovered that applying pressure to a protein found in egg whites and tears can generate electricity.

The researchers from the Bernal Institute observed that crystals of lysozyme, a model protein that is abundant in egg whites of birds as well as in the tears, saliva and milk of mammals can generate electricity when pressed.

Their report was published 2 in the journal Applied Physics Letters.

The ability to generate electricity by applying pressure, known as direct piezoelectricity, is a property of materials such as quartz that can convert mechanical energy into electrical energy and vice versa. Such materials are used in a variety of applications ranging from resonators and vibrators in mobile phones to deep ocean sonars and ultrasound imaging. Bone, tendon and wood are long known to possess piezoelectricity.

“While piezoelectricity is used all around us, the capacity to generate electricity from this particular protein had not been explored. The extent of the piezoelectricity in lysozyme crystals is significant. It is of the same order of magnitude found in quartz. However, because it is a biological material, it is non-toxic so it could have many innovative applications such as electroactive anti-microbial coatings for medical implants,” said Aimee Stapleton, the lead author and an Irish research council EMBARK postgraduate fellow in the department of physics and Bernal Institute of UL.

Crystals of lysozyme are easy to make from natural sources.

“The high precision structure of lysozyme crystals has been known since 1965. In fact, it is the second protein structure and the first enzyme structure that was ever solved, but we are the first to use these crystals to show the evidence of piezoelectricity,” added professor Tewfik Soulimane, structural biologist at UL and co-author.

“Crystals are the gold-standard for measuring piezoelectricity in non-biological materials. Our team has shown that the same approach can be taken in understanding this effect in biology. This is a new approach as scientists so far have tried to understand piezoelectricity in biology using complex hierarchical structures such as tissues, cells or polypeptides rather than investigating simpler fundamental building blocks,” said professor Tofail Syed of UL’s department of physics.

The discovery may have wide-reaching applications and could lead to further research in the area of energy harvesting and flexible electronics for biomedical devices. Future applications of the discovery may include controlling the release of drugs in the body by using lysozyme as a physiologically mediated pump that scavenges energy from its surroundings.

Being naturally biocompatible and piezoelectric, lysozyme may present an alternative to conventional piezoelectric energy harvesters, many of which contain toxic elements such as lead. 

© University of Limerick



Your Comments (Up to 2000 characters)
Please respect our community and the integrity of its participants. WOC reserves the right to moderate and approve your comment.

Related News

New nanomaterial extracts hydrogen fuel from seawater

ORLANDO, US: University of Central Florida (UCF) researcher Yang Yang has come up with a new hybrid nanomaterial that harnesses solar energy and uses ...

Read more
Stork bags operation services contract by Ecopetrol

IRVING/BOGOTA, US/ UTRECHT, NETHERLANDS: Stork a diversified services segment of Fluor Corporation (FLR) has been awarded a 29-month contract by ...

Read more
Gevo to supply jet biofuel to Virgin Australia

ENGLEWOOD, US: Gevo Inc (GEVO) expect to supply its renewable alcohol-to-jet fuel (ATJ) to the Virgin Australia Group, a leading Australian airline gr ...

Read more
Indian alkali and chlorovinyl industry challenged by high energy costs: AMAI

NEW DELHI, INDIA: Alkali Manufacturers Association of India (AMAI) on its 40th annual general meeting had an interactive session with Rajeev Kapoor, I ...

Read more
Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2017 awarded for imaging molecules of life

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN: The Nobel Prize 2017 in Chemistry is finally revealed. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the&nbs ...

Read more
A Schulman launches new styrene-free sheet moulding compounds

AKRON, US: A Schulman Inc (SHLM) has launched its next-generation Lytex SF series, styrene-free sheet moulding compounds (SMCs) delivering o ...

Read more uses cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use. X