Study lead author Aimee Stapleton of the University of Limerick
A group of Irish scientists from the Bernal Institute at the University of Limerick discovered that mechanical pressure on the protein lysozyme, which is found in egg white and normal tears, produces electricity.
The ability to generate electricity when pressed is known as the piezoelectric effect, characteristic, for example, of quartz crystals, which convert mechanical energy into electrical energy and vice versa. Such materials are widely used in resonators and vibrators in mobile devices or in deep-sea echo sounders for ultrasound imaging. Bones, tendons and wood also have a piezoelectric effect.
As it turned out, lysozyme crystals can be easily isolated from natural sources. According to one of the leading researchers, Amy Stapleton, the ability of this protein to generate electricity has long been unknown. Studies have shown that the ability of lysozyme to generate electricity is quite comparable to that of quartz.
Authors of the discovery: John Sweeney, Amy Stapleton and Vincent Casey
Considering the biological origin of crystals and the absence of toxicity, they can be successfully used as electroactive and antimicrobial coatings for medical implants.
The discovery of Irish scientists opens up broad prospects for further research in the field of energy and flexible biomedical electronics.