Wednesday, 19 October 2022

In December 1921,  Sir Alexander Fleming reported a discovery that paved the way for his more famous, yet similarly serendipitous, discovery of penicillin in 1928.

Sir Fleming found an enzyme that could dissolve certain microbes. He called it lysozyme.

He had a cold in a November morning that year and a drop of his nasal mucus fell onto a bacteria culture plate. He decided to mix the mucus into the culture. A few weeks later, he saw that the mucus bacteria were dissolving. He did similar experiments with tears to find similar results.

In 2017, UL scientists led by Professor Tofail Syed of the Department of Physics, and Bernal Institute reported pressure induced electricity (piezoelectricity) in lysozyme crystals. In 2018, the group found electricity when these crystals were heated or cooled (pyroelectricity).

The magnitude of such electricity was three orders of magnitude higher than what could be obtained from conventional pyroelectric materials.

Professor Tofail Syed and Dr. Pierre Cazade from the Department of Physics, and Professor Tewfik Soulimane from Department of Chemical Sciences have been invited to talk at the Centennial celebration of the discovery of lysozyme to discuss further development potential in producing environment-friendly energy from lysozyme and other biological piezo and pyroelectrics. The event has been organised by bioseutica (, which collaborated with Sir Fleming in the commercial production success of lysozyme.