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)  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”  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 .
“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  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.”
Dr David Evans | alfa
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The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
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Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
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The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
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