Mobile devices and video games can soon be fed with forest waste, scientific researchers at the University of Limerick have discovered.
Researchers at the Bernal Institute of the University also discovered earlier this year how to generate electricity from human tears.
His latest research has found that mobile phone speakers and motion detectors in cars and video games could soon be powered by electricity generated from sustainable, low-cost biomaterials.
The researchers discovered that the glycine biomolecule, when struck or squeezed, can generate enough electricity to power electrical devices in an economically viable and environmentally sustainable manner.
The research was published in the leading international journal Nature Materials.
Glycine, a simple amino acid, which is produced in virtually all agricultural and forestry waste, can be produced at less than 1% of the cost of the piezoelectric materials currently used. .
"It's really exciting that such a small molecule can generate so much electricity," said Sarah Guerin, senior author and postgraduate researcher funded by Science Foundation Ireland in the Physics Department and the Bernal Institute, UL.
"We used computer models to predict the electrical response of a wide range of crystals and the glycine number was not on the list, then we created long, narrow crystals of glycine in the alcohol and produced electricity just by touching them," he said. .
PhD supervisor Damien Thompson said: "The predictive models we are developing can save lab years from trial and error work.
" The modeling data tell us what kind of crystals to grow and where it is best to cut and press those crystals to generate electricity. "
Professor Tofail Syed, co-author and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Center for Medical Devices Researchers (CURAM), said:" We also have a patent pending that translates our findings into applications such as generation of biodegradable energy, devices that detect diseases within the body and physiologically controlled drug pumps. "
Previously, Bernal scientists discovered piezoelectricity in the globular lysozyme protein, which is found in tears, egg white and saliva, and hydroxyapatite, a component of the bones.
"The current finding extends the technology towards the pra gmatic, low c ost, renewable sources for the generation of electricity, "said Professor Luuk van der Wielen, director of the Bernal Institute and Bernal professor of Engineering and Design of Biosystems.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved