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Protein discovery | Photo source Pixabay

Bio-medic electronics could be powered by milk and egg white

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Researchers discovered that a protein made by birds and mammals produces electricity when put under pressure.

Scientists from the University of Limerick recently published their research revealing that a protein produced by both birds and mammals is able to undergo piezoelectricity to produce energy equivalent to that of quartz. Piezoelectricity is the process of creating energy by applying pressure, and quartz is the standard-bearer of the capability. Wood, bone and tendon are other materials able to produce electricity in the same way, and the process is used in devices ranging from ocean sonar machines to mobile phone vibrators.

The finding that mammalian milk, saliva and tears, and the egg whites of birds, are also capable of piezoelectricity further expands the potential for development in bio-medical devices. Non-toxic and biological, the lysozyme protein could replace commonly used and harmful materials such as lead and help researchers improve the flexibility of medical electronics. Researchers believe that the protein’s application could include internally controlling the release of medicines.

Other ways in which self-powering nanotechnology is being tested in healthcare include battery-free implants that could replace traditional pacemakers and a stretchable skin-like material that gathers energy from motion. What other industries could benefit from similar approaches to energy harvesting and flexibility?

Email: sheena.doyle@ul.ie

Website: www.ul.ie

Contact: sheena.doyle@ul.ie

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