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The Crystal-Clear Project needs your help!

Our project is working with the public to grow eco-friendly crystals that can generate electricity when squeezed. These materials are called piezoelectric and are used in a range of applications from electric toothbrushes to satellites. Many of these materials are made with lead and compounds that are not good for the environment.

By working with you, we can learn about the process of growing green alternatives. We will be posting hundreds of kits out to people around Ireland who want to shape a real science project based in the University of Limerick. Sign up now!

If you would like to get in contact with the team directly, please message: [email protected].

    What is piezoelectricity?
    Piezoelectric materials can convert mechanical energy into electrical energy and vice versa. They are used in billions of sensors and technologies all around the world- from medical devices and microphones, to musical birthday cards and printers.
    Why do we need new piezoelectric materials?
    The majority of piezoelectric materials that are used for these applications are really bad for the environment- both when they are made and when they are thrown away. But we don’t have a material that can do what they do yet so we have had to keep them around.
    And that’s why we are growing these crystals?

    Exactly! Our piezoelectric crystals are environmentally friendly and cheap to make. They can be grown very easily and quickly, but their shape and size can be difficult to control. We grow them on conductive substrates such as aluminium and copper so they can easily be tested as sensors and energy harvesters. We want them to replace all of the piezoelectric materials that are damaging the environment.

    So why do you need our help?
    For our crystals to be used in technologies we need every crystal film to have similar properties, and more importantly we need to know how much those properties can change over hundreds and thousands of films. We have made science kits so that hundreds of people around Ireland can make these crystal films using our recipe and send them back to us. We will then measure all of their properties to see how different they are.
    What do you need us to do?
    We are giving you a basic recipe for these crystal films that can be grown in 2 weeks, and the equipment that you need to make these crystals inside of silicon moulds. This will allow lots of crystals to grow together into disc shapes that we can test.
    What else can we do to help?
    We need you to write down as much information as you can about your crystal growing experience- where did you leave the crystals to grow, what was the weather like, did you spill any water or powder- we can use all of this information to understand your crystals and our materials better.