Egg whites aren’t just great for cocktails, but electronics, too

28 Sep 2017

Image: ffolas/Shutterstock

The humble egg has a multitude of uses in cooking and cocktail-making, but egg whites could now prove to be ‘eggcellent’ in producing future electronics.

With the addition of a chemical, egg whites could one day be used by manufacturers to produce advanced, transparent, flexible electronic devices.

That’s according to a paper recently published to the journal Nanotechnology by a team of Chinese researchers, led by Qunliang Song at Southwest University.

According to, the team’s research expands upon previous studies into the effectiveness of egg whites (or egg albumen, as they are officially known) within electronic devices due to their dielectric – or insulating – properties.

However, unlike these previous studies, this latest research has, for the first time, managed to use the albumen in a next-generation electronics concept known as resistive memories, which can switch a dielectric layer to insulate or conduct when required.

This could allow for electronics to have both higher speeds and higher densities, but at a much smaller size.

Unbeatable electronics

The dielectric layer in this case is made from the albumen and, by mixing it with a 10pc hydrogen peroxide solution, it can produce effective resistive memories.

This is because egg albumen contains more than 40 different proteins linked by weak chemical bonds, and deep within them are large numbers of iron, sodium and potassium ions.

With the addition of hydrogen peroxide, these weak bonds are broken, exposing the positively charged ions, which act as traps for negatively charged ones.

When a specified current is run through it, the dielectric layer becomes a switch that gives it the edge over modern silicon-based memory.

“Although great progress and breakthroughs have been made regarding the new material’s application and structure design, the mechanism of resistive switching memory is still not completely clear,” said Song.

“We will continue our investigation of the mechanism of resistive switching memory. At the same time, flexible, wearable and water-dissolution resistive switching memory cells will be developed using organic-modified egg albumen in our following work.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic