Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Big hit on a small scale for black-eyed peas


What have Black-eyed peas got to do with nanotechnology? As well as sharing their name with a chart-topping U.S. band, Black-eyed peas (also known as Cowpeas) are being used by scientists at the John Innes Centre in Norwich (JIC) [1] to grow virus particles that can be decorated with a chemical turning the particles into a kind of molecular capacitor.

Nanotechnology is the study of tiny structures in the scale of 1/100,000 of the width of a human hair and crosses the disciplines of chemistry, biology and physics. This work has been published in the journal “Small” [2] and is the first piece of nanotechnology from the John Innes Centre. The researchers at the institute are using a harmless virus of Cowpea plants because its tiny size and unique structure makes it an ideal scaffold for decoration with various chemicals to give different characteristics, depending on the application required [3].

“This is an exciting discovery in bionanotechnology, at the interface of chemistry and biology, using plant viruses to produce electronically active nanoparticles of defined size” says Nicole Steinmetz, a PhD student working on the EU-funded project [4] in the group of Dr Dave Evans (Project Leader) in collaboration with Dr. George Lomonossoff in the Department of Biological Chemistry, “Future applications may be in, for example, biosensors, nanoelectronic devices, and electrocatalytic processes.”

Professor Chris Lamb, Director, JIC said "The combination of expertise from different disciplines, in this case plant virology and chemistry, is one of the strengths of the John Innes Centre, with long term fundamental research programmes underpinning exciting innovations that can lead to discoveries such as this."

This project is still in the very early stages, but the scientists hope that this groundbreaking research will lead to the development of the technology for use in medical as well as industrial applications.

[1] The John Innes Centre (JIC), Norwich, UK is an independent, world-leading research centre in plant and microbial sciences. The JIC has over 800 staff and students. JIC carries out high quality fundamental, strategic and applied research to understand how plants and microbes work at the molecular, cellular and genetic levels. The JIC also trains scientists and students, collaborates with many other research laboratories and communicates its science to end-users and the general public. The JIC is grant-aided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
[2] This work was published in Small (2006) 4, 530 - 533. (Publishers: Wiley InterScience).
[3] The Cowpea mosaic virus has characteristics of an ideal nanoscaffold/building block. It has a sphere-like structure of 28 nm diameter and its properties are defined. The virus particles can be obtained in gram scale from 1 kg of infected plant leaves. Amino acids on the exterior surface of the virus particle provide sites of attachment for a range of chemicals.
[4] This work is funded by the EU Marie Curie Early Stage Research Training Scheme that provides funding for PhD students in the European Union.

Dr David Evans | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>