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10-05/06 :: May/June 2010

nanotimes News in Brief

Physicists at the University of Maryland and National Institute of Standards and Technology have found a way to turn a precision measurement device into a versatile tool for manipulating quan- tum bits (qubits). The researchers adapted a device known as an optical frequency comb in their novel approach to performing the sorts of quantum data operations that will be vital for future quantum computers. The research appears in this week‘s issue of Physical Review Letters and is described in a Viewpoint article by Boris Blinov (University of Washington) in the current edition of APS Physics (physics.aps.org).

D. Hayes, D. N. Matsukevich, P. Maunz, D. Hucul, Q. Quraishi, S. Olmschenk, W. Campbell, J. Mizrahi, C. Sen- ko, and C. Monroe: Entanglement of Atomic Qubits Using an Optical Frequency Comb, In: Physical Review Letters, Vol. 104(2010), Issue 14, Article 140501 [4 pages], DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.104.140501: http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.104.140501

Boris Blinov: Combing a qubit, In: Physics, Vol. 3(2010), Issue 30, April 5, 2010, DOI:10.1103/Physics.3.30: http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/Physics.3.30

The latest research currently being conducted in India has shown that nanoparticles can promote the growth of fungi and even assist plant growth. The Institute of Microbiology and Wine Research at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz is also to become involved in this new field of research and will be collaborating with the Indian specialist Professor Dr Ajit Varma to investigate the effects of nanoparticles on microorganisms, particularly yeast.

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Yeast is an essential ingredient in the production of bread, beer, and wine.

In the 1990s, Professor Varma discovered a fun- gus – Piriformospora indica – that grows in the Thar Desert in north-western India and significantly boosts the growth of various crop plants and me- dicinal herbs. Desert shrubs provide the natural habitat of the fungus. It can be readily cultivated, and the growth of many different plants is promoted when inoculated with the fungus. It colonizes the roots and sends out branched threadlike filaments, the mycelia, into the soil in order to find water and nutrients, which the host plant can then also benefit from. In the case of sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua), for example, the promotion of growth re- sulted in enhanced production of the active sub- stance artemisinin by a factor of 2.5 in comparison with a control group that had not been inoculated with the fungus. Varma discovered a year ago purely by chance that the cultivation of P. indica is further facilitated in the presence of nanoparticles. When the fungus was brought into contact with ti- tanium dioxide nanoparticles and used to inoculate broccoli seed, major improvement to the growth of the resultant plants was seen.

“Our fungus interacts with the nanoparticles,” explained Varma, who was in Mainz for three weeks thanks to sponsorship provided by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. “The nano- particle stimulates the fungus and through it also promotes the growth of plants.”

Working in collaboration with Varma, Professor Dr Helmut König, head of the Institute of Microbiolo- gy and Wine Research at Mainz University, will be

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