Researchers at the Institut Català de Nanociència i Nanotecnologia (ICN2), a Severo Ochoa research centre located in the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) Campus and member of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST), have discovered that bone too is flexoelectric. They posit the possible role of flexoelectricity in the regeneration of bone tissue in and around the kind of microfractures incurred in bones on a daily basis.
The ICN2 Oxide Nanophysics Group led by ICREA Prof. Gustau Catalan reports these findings today in Advanced Materials (“Flexoelectricity in Bones”), with lead author Fabián Vásquez-Sancho. The work has potential implications for the prosthetics industry and the development of biomimetic self-healing materials.
Bones were already known to generate electricity under pressure, stimulating self-repair and remodelling. First reported in the late fifties, this was initially attributed to the piezoelectricity of bone’s organic component, collagen. However, studies have since observed markers of bone repair in the absence of collagen, suggesting that other effects are at play. In this work ICN2 researchers have revealed just such an effect: the flexoelectricity of bone’s mineral component.