Black Eyed Peas – Big Hit in Nanotech

Researchers at the John Innes Centre in Norwich have grown particles of a mosaic virus that infects black-eyed peas and dressed them up with a redox-active organometallic compound* to convert the particles into nanoscopic molecular capacitors.

The virus, which is only harmful to black-eyed, or cowpea plants, has a unique structure making it the perfect scaffold for chemical modification, allowing the team to tailor its chemical and physical properties to particular applications.

“This is an exciting discovery in bionanotechnology using plant viruses to produce electronically active nanoparticles of defined size” says graduate student Nicole Steinmetz, who is working on the EU-funded project with project leader David Evans and George Lomonossoff of the Department of Biological Chemistry. “Future applications may be in, for example, biosensors, nanoelectronic devices, and electrocatalytic processes,” she adds.

The project is still in the very early stages, by the JIC considered it newsworthy enough to publish a press release today and capitalise on the popularity of young people’s popular music beat combo the Black-eyed Peas, and never one to miss out on an opportunity for catching a few new readers, particularly among the youth of today, Sciencebase is getting down with it, to give it a mention too.

The work was published in detail in the journal “Small” and is, the press release says, the first piece of nanotechnology from the John Innes Centre.

Meanwhile, if you want more on the business of nanotech, you might wish to subscribe to Small Times, which you can get for free for a year through this special Sciencebase link. Grab it while you can, as these magazines sometimes drop off the roster.

*240 units of a ferrocenecarboxylate, in fact.