The direct piezoelectric effect in the globular protein lysozyme


Here, we present experimental evidence of the direct piezoelectric effect in the globular protein, lysozyme. Piezoelectric materials are employed in many actuating and sensing applications because they can convert mechanical energy into electrical energy and vice versa. Although originally studied in inorganic materials, several biological materials including amino acids and bone, also exhibit piezoelectricity. The exact mechanisms supporting biological piezoelectricity are not known, nor is it known whether biological piezoelectricity conforms strictly to the criteria of classical piezoelectricity. The observation of piezoelectricity in protein crystals presented here links biological piezoelectricity with the classical theory of piezoelectricity. We quantify the direct piezoelectric effect in monoclinic and tetragonal aggregate films of lysozyme using conventional techniques based on the Berlincourt Method. The largest piezoelectric effect measured in a crystalline aggregate film of lysozyme was approximately 6.5 pCN(-1). These findings raise fundamental questions as to the possible physiological significance of piezoelectricity in lysozyme and the potential for technical applications. Published by AIP Publishing.



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Stapleton, A; Noor, MR; Sweeney, J; Casey, V; Kholkin, AL; Silien, C; Gandhi, AA; Soulimane, T; Tofail, SAM

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Funding from the Irish Research Council EMBARK Postgraduate Scholarship (RS/2012/337) to A.S. is acknowledged. Part of this study was also facilitated by a HEA grant under the Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions (PRTLI 5) to the University of Limerick.

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