Next time you are checking on your zombie apocalypse survival kit to make sure you are prepared for what is to come, sneaking in a bottle of your tears might be as crucial as your typical knife set. Well, sort of!

Irish scientists have figured out a method to generate electricity using a protein that can found in tears and even egg whites.

The study, which was published on October 2 in the journal Applied Physics Letters, shows that lysozyme can produce electricity when pressed. lysozyme is a protein that is present in high quantities in tears, egg whites, saliva and milk. The ability of this protein to generate electricity can be traced to the piezoelectric effect, which is an attribute of some materials such as quartz, that allows them to produce electricity when they are submitted to mechanical pressure. A key feature of the piezoelectric effect is that it is reversible, which means that a material displaying it can also convert electrical energy to mechanical energy. The direct piezoelectric effect was first demonstrated in 1880 by the brothers Pierre and Jacques Curie. Piezoelectric-able materials are used in a wide range of applications, including but not limited to, phone vibrators, medical ultrasound equipment, and even cigarette igniters. Moreover, many natural and biological elements such as bone, tendon, and wood also exhibit the piezoelectric effect.

The discovery made by a team of researchers at the University Of Limerick could pave the way for a new type of biomedical devices that are powered by harvested energy. We have talked about energy scavenging/harvesting before. Basically, scientists could use the piezoelectric effect present in lysozyme to build a physiologically mediated pump that scavenges ambient energy to administer drugs in real-time.

As you can see, we are still a long way from using tears to charge phones, but still, the implications of this research are huge, and who knows, a day where patients use medical devices powered by body energy is not that far away in the future after all!

Source: www.ul.ie

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