A special protein secreted by specific human fluids can create power.
A new way to harvest electricity has been discovered by scientists: human bodily secretions. Lysozyme, a special protein that generates electricity when pressure is applied, can be used as a new source of fuel for bodily implanted devices, like the kind that administer medications, according to new research published in the journal Applied Physics Letters.
It’s found in tears, saliva, milk, mucus, and egg whites and in its crystalized form, can produce an electrical charge, researchers from the University of Limerick in Ireland found. When the protein was pressed between two thin glass slides, it produced piezoelectricity, a form of energy that occurs as a product of stress and pressure.
“While piezoelectricity is used all around us, the capacity to generate electricity from this particular protein had not been explored,” researcher Aimee Stapleton told the journal. “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.”
The discovery opens the door for potential devices to be at least partially created out of something the body is already familiar with. These implantable piezoelectric devices will be controlled and powered by lysozyme sensors in the body. They’ll more flexible and biodegradable, too.
“This is a new approach,” lead researcher Tofail Syed said. “We also imagine that lysozyme may be employed as an antimicrobial additive/coating to implants,” the team explained.