back to article Boffins claim discovery of the first piezoelectric liquid

A research team from Michigan State University (MSU) has discovered a liquid they say "defies a simple theoretical explanation" because it has piezoelectric characteristics. While much about the allegedly piezoelectric liquid remains a mystery – even to the boffins who discovered it – such materials could be used to create …

  1. Harry Kiri

    Aaah, unfortunately paywalled

    Of interest as to whether its a strong piezoelectric effect (so could be used to generate power in wave generators) or not...

    1. Peter Ford

      Re: Aaah, unfortunately paywalled

      I think the article said that the piezoelectric effect of the materials they have so far is an order of magnitude less than quartz, so probably not great...

    2. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: Aaah, unfortunately paywalled

      It says an order of magnitude less than quartz, so no.

      However, it also says that they have no idea of what's going on, and that it shouldn't even be possible to begin with. That means that we also don't know whether other materials might work better, potentially much better. More research is needed.

    3. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Aaah, unfortunately paywalled

      From the article: their tests resulted in a piezoelectric effect "an order of magnitude smaller than that of quartz."

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought I had sensitive teeth, when it turns out my pancakes had piezoelectric maple syrup on them.

  3. edjimf

    T-1000 incoming

    A liquid that changes shape when electricity is applied to it?

    Sounds like the basis for a shape-shifting robot assassin from the future...!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't think they are the first to discover this.

    I saw a demonstration of a new piezoelectric liquid lens at a UK university science exhibition about 5 years ago. The researchers were hoping to commercialize it into something that could be used in smartphones.

    1. PerlyKing


      Are you sure you're not thinking of electrowetting?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lenses ?

    Pretty certain electrostatic lenses have been developed using water ?

    Still another great example of "science isn't finished"

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Lenses ?

      Potential to reshape the future?

      1. AndrueC Silver badge

        Re: Lenses ?

        They seem to bring the problem into focus for sure.

    2. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: Lenses ?

      If your thinking of the same thing I am, I don't think it was anything more complex than injecting water between two membranes to create an easily variable focal length. They were being heralded as a cheap and easy way to provide spectacles to people who needed them in e.g. poorer areas of Africa, but I don't know what happened to the idea.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    But why?

    If no one knew of (or believed in the existence of) a piezoelectric liquid then why were they randomly putting 1-hexyl-3-methyl imidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl) imide in a cylinder, compressing it and measuring its potential difference?!

    I'm sure there is more to the story that would be interesting to know.

    Even if it is one of those "we were trying something completely different and found this by accident" ones.

    (like the discoveries of artificial sweeteners which all seemed to have been discovered by shocking lab cross contamination - in one case so bad that the researchers family complained their dinner at home was too sweet...)

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: But why?

      why were they randomly putting 1-hexyl-3-methyl imidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl) imide in a cylinder

      Gee, if you don't do that for fun then your weekends sure must be dull!

  7. trevorde Silver badge

    The real question is

    What does it taste like?

    1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

      Re: The real question is

      You'll be shocked when you find out!

      1. b0llchit Silver badge

        Re: The real question is

        Shouldn't that read: You'll be shocked to find out.

        1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

          Re: The real question is

          Probably, but where's your 'Pedantic grammar nazi' icon?

          1. b0llchit Silver badge

            Re: The real question is

            It was cold outside (needed coat) and too much excitement was not warranted to express exclusive righteousness, which, anyway, could not generate enough heat to hold off the cold.

            A rather shocking revelation, I'll admit.

            See icon for supplementary (shocking) heater suggestion.

      2. stiine Silver badge

        Re: The real question is

        Doesn't matter, if you can add flavoring to it. I'm sure Trojan will buy the patent if they have the chance.

    2. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: The real question is


  8. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Interesting question

    They're also trying to sort out whether other materials may be more conductive, as their tests resulted in a piezoelectric effect "an order of magnitude smaller than that of quartz."

    Whereas piezoelectric solids currently in use are effectively insulators delivering and responding to potential difference, from the above this liquid sounds as if it's conductive. Can't check as the paper is paywalled, but it's worth thinking about how that might work.

    1. MJB7

      Re: Interesting question

      The materials under discussion are described as "ionic liquid salts". If it's a liquid which is full of ions, it is hard to see how it could _not_ be a conductor

      (But as they've already done one impossible thing before breakfast, there's no obvious reason they shouldn't do another.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Interesting question

        technically they need to get another 4 in after that before they will really deserve that breakfast...

  9. bernmeister

    Look at the date.

    Am I being a sceptic? The timing of this article is a bit suspicious. Articles describing unusual physics are often released just before April 1st.

  10. StargateSg7

    You can use Peizoelectric Liquids for creating Shape-Shifting Micro Lenses that can be put overtop individual photosites on CMOS and CCD imaging sensors (i.e. smartphone and tablet cameras!) that can MOVE, turn and twist about to form an optimal light path so that large heavy lenses ARE NO LONGER NEEDED for small devices such as phones and tablets. This means the super-thin nature of modern phones can be maintained while still having 2x to 20x optical zoom capabilities built-in!

    It is ALSO possible to use Peizoelectric liquids to make individual-photosite addressable GLOBAL SHUTTERS for image sensors that can be put on top of camera phone sensors that can turn the lens fully opaque (i.e. solid white or black) to semi-transparent or fully transparent at shutter rates of 1/100,000th of a second so that super-fast sports and nature action can be captured WITHOUT motion blur and without needing an expensive mechanical shutter or slow electronic shutters.

    Since the Peizoelectric shutters are individual-pixel addressable AND semi-transparent-capable, you can create POWERFUL neutral density filters that cut out excessively bright incoming light for BEST image quality AND you can create Hollywood-style cookie-cutter effects that mimic shapes such as binoculars, triangles, circles, rectangles, etc used for later image editing, green-screen and compositing post-production purposes. This will same LOTS OF TIME for VFX personnel, video editors and still photo editors!

    Peizoelectric Liquids can ALSO create specialize ZOOM LENSES that can go from 20 mm to 4000 mm focal lengths and back again in mere milliseconds for allowing FAST following of high-action imagery at short distances to long distances using a single lens that is shorter and WEIGHS MUCH LESS than traditional zoom lenses! AND .... since peizoelectric liquid lens systems are individual photosite addressable, you can ALSO create powerful image stabilization systems that keep the light path going to individual photosites of the camera image sensor very stable and still. This means super-smooth video and stills with no shakiness, no bounce and no vibration! That is a BIG WIN for the consumer and professional videographer and still photographer!

    This is a GREAT DISCOVERY! It just has to now be commercially exploited!

    P.S. all of the above ideas for hardware and software are now fully free and open source world-wide under GPL-3 licence terms!


    1. bigphil9009

      When can we see your megasuperawesome products on Linus Tech Tips buddy? Or are they complete vapourware bullshit as per usual?

  11. DaemonProcess


    It came to us like a bolt from the blueberry syrup.

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