• Question: Is it possible for the materials that you use to make the sensors environmentally friendly?. And is it possible to generate electricity or energy from the crystals with a different method, such as heat and pressure?

    Asked by Tomiwa.K to Sarah on 11 Nov 2017.
    • Photo: Sarah Guerin

      Sarah Guerin answered on 11 Nov 2017:

      Excellent question! Yes, the great thing about the materials I use (amino acids, proteins, shells, etc.) is that they are all environmentally friendly. When I am making devices I try to also use non-toxic plastics, so that the sensors could be used inside of the body. Current sensors based on this science contain materials like lead and zinc oxide, which wouldn’t be safe to put in the body.

      Pressure is how I normally generate electricity- this phenomenon is called piezoelectricity- but yes there is a really cool property called pyroelectricity where you can generate electricity in crystals by heating them up/cooling them down.