A group of researchers from the University of Limerick (Ireland) and Ural Federal University (Russia) received direct evidence of the piezoelectric effect of lysozyme in monoclinic and tetragonal aggregate films of lysozyme. The sufficiently high piezoelectric coefficient is several times higher than that of the classical quartz piezoelectricity, which makes it possible to use this material for various biomedical purposes, for example, to generate electric charges in cells. This means that lysozyme can be used to stimulate nerve endings by generating electrical signals directly in the body; it can serve as a power source for pacemakers (instead of regular batteries that must be periodically replaced). Moreover lysozyme can be used in various biosensors to detect specific markers of diseases.
"Lysozyme plays a big role in the physiological processes in the human body, and its concentration serves as a marker for various diseases. Lysozyme easily crystallizes, its structure was obtained back in 1965. It was assumed that lysozyme single crystals can have a piezoelectric effect, which means they can generate electric charge at mechanical pressure and deform under the action of an electric field," explains co-author of the study, head of the Laboratory of Nanoscale Ferroelectric Materials of UrFU Andrei Kholkin.
However, the scientists have obtained direct evidence of piezoelectric activity of lysozyme and confirmed the existence of a connection between the functionality of living organisms and the physical properties of its constituent structures only recently. The results of the study are presented in the article "The direct piezoelectric effect in the globular protein lysozyme in the journal American Institute of Physics".